Saturday, February 6, 2010

Iran Opens two New Missile Production Plants

Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi opened two new missile production plants on Saturday, just three days after Iran fired a rocket carrying live animals into space, state television reported.The plants will produce a ground-to-air missile dubbed the Qaem (Rising) and a surface-to-surface missile dubbed Toofan 5 (Storm), the broadcaster said.

The Qaem is designed to target helicopters at low and medium altitudes, it added."Toofan 5 is one of the most advanced missiles. It has two warheads which can destroy tanks and other armoured vehicles," Vahidi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.He said the Qaem was a "missile which can destroy targets in the air travelling at low speed and at low altitude, especially assault helicopters."

Iran unveiled the new plants as part of its celebrations for the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution later this month.On Wednesday, it launched a capsule carrying turtles, rats and worms aboard a Kavoshgar 3 (Explorer) rocket in its first experiment in sending living creatures into space.Iran's missile and space programmes have sparked mounting alarm in the West amid fears that a command of advanced ballistics technologies combined with the nuclear know-how acquired from its declared civilian programme may enable it to produce an atomic weapon.

Iran has also regularly boasted of having missiles that can target arch-foe Israel. In December it tested the Sejil 2 (Lethal Stone) missile, describing it as a faster version of a medium-range missile that could allow it to strike arch-foe Israel.The United States and its regional ally Israel have not ruled out a military option to stop Tehran's controversial nuclear drive.

Tehran has in the past threatened to target US bases in the region and to block the strategic Gulf Strait of Hormuz waterway for oil tankers if its nuclear sites are attacked.Iran is under three sets of UN sanctions for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.



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