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Iran arms elite Guards with ballistic missile

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Iran had test fired the Qiam-1 ballistic missile in August last year.

TEHRAN (AFP): Iran has equipped its elite Revolutionary Guards with a new surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the Qiam-1, which was built locally and test-fired in August, according to the Iranian media.

"Mass production of the Qiam (Rising) missile, the first locally built missile with no fins, shows Iran's self-sufficiency in manufacturing different kinds of missiles," the hardline Kayhan daily quoted Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi as saying.

During a ceremony to mark the delivery of the missile on Sunday, Vahidi said the indigenous manufacturing of the missile is "a disgrace to those who claim that Iran is cooperating with other nations" to make such missiles.

He was reacting to a UN report on sanctions that says Iran and North Korea are suspected of sharing ballistic missile technology.

"The Qiam-1 missile is designed in a way that reduces its detection by anti-missile systems of enemies, has high velocity and high precision in hitting targets," Vahidi added.

He gave no other details on the technology used in the making of the missile, which according to some Western experts is a derivative of the Shahab-2, itself derived from Soviet Scud B, which has a range of around 500 kilometres (310 miles).

Iran says it has a wide range of missiles, some capable of striking targets inside arch-foe Israel as well as US bases in the Middle East.

The Islamic republic regularly boasts about developing missiles having substantial range and capabilities, but Western military experts cast doubt on its claims.

Iran's missile programme is under the control of the Guards, who are responsible for the majority of their operational use.

Its space and missile programmes have been a concern in the West, which fears Tehran is developing a ballistic capability in order to launch potential nuclear weapons which it suspects Iran is aiming to develop under the guise of its civilian atomic programme.

Iran has steadfastly denied these Western charges, saying its nuclear and space programmes have no military objectives.


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