Iran has converted its 30-ton Shahab-3 missile into a satellite launch vehicle, a US-based aviation journal reported Thursday.
According to Aviation Week and Space Technology
, Alaoddin Boroujerdi, chairman of Iran's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told a group of students and clerics in Qom, near one of Iran's missile test sites, that the launcher is assembled and will "soon" be sent into space with one of Iran's satellites.
Israeli defense expert Uzi Rubin, in a report to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said that "once Iran learns how to put 300 kg. into earth orbit, it could adapt the satellite launcher into an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could drop more than 300 kg. anywhere in the world."
In August, an Iranian hard-line cleric warned Israel that Iranian missiles would land in Tel Aviv if the "Jewish state" attacked Iran, Iranian state-run television reported.
Ahmad Khatami, a mid-ranking cleric, said Israel should bear in mind its month-long war with Hizbullah before considering any threats against Iran.
Boasting that Hizbullah's 70-km.-range missiles 'turned Israel into a country of ghosts,' Khatami declared that Israel would face dire consequences if it 'makes an iota of aggression against Iran.'
'They must fear the day [Iran's] 2,000-kilometer-range missiles land in the heart of Tel Aviv,' he said.
Iran has consistently claimed that its Shahab-3 missiles have a range of 2,000 km. However, US defense analysts believe the Shahab-3's range to be 800-1,000 km., which nevertheless includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, all of the Persian Gulf, and southern Turkey.
However, Congress has received reports from the US Defense Intelligence Agency that Iran could develop an ICBM with a range of 3,000 km. by 2015.
AP contributed to this report.