'Iran tested new missile during summit'

Channel 10: Missile can reach Israel, US bases in ME, eastern Europe; launch harder to detect.

iran shihab test, awesom (photo credit: AP [file])
iran shihab test, awesom
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran tested a newly-developed ballistic missile on the day of the Annapolis conference, Channel 10 reported Wednesday. The Ashoura missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers and is capable of reaching Israel, US Army bases in the Middle East and eastern European cities. According to the report, the new missile is an improvement to the existing Shihab-3 missile. The Ashoura uses solid fuel instead of the Shihab's liquid fuel, giving it a significantly faster launch sequence which is harder to detect. Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Muhammad-Najjar had announced the development of the new missile on the day of the summit, but had not specified whether it had actually been tested. According to the country's IRNA news agency, Najjar said the missile was named the "Ashoura," meaning "the tenth day" in Farsi - a sacred reference among Shi'ite Muslims to the martyrdom of the third imam. The Iranian defense minister said that "the production of the new missile was one of the Defense Ministry's greatest achievements." Analysts believe much of Iran's military production has benefited from assistance from Russia, China and other countries, but many of their weapons development claims have not been independently verified. Recent weapons development has been motivated by Iran's standoff with the US over its controversial nuclear program. The Shihab-3, which means "shooting star" in Farsi, has a range of at least 1,300 kilometers. In 2005, Iranian officials said they had improved the range of the Shihab-3 to 2,000 kilometers, a range equal to that of the new missile reported Wednesday. Experts also believe Iran is developing the Shihab-4 missile, thought to have a range between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometers that would put much of Europe in range. AP contributed to this report.