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Iran denies developing missiles to reach US

Iran on Sunday repudiated US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's allegations that Tehran may be working to develop missiles capable of reaching the United States, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"Acquiring missiles which could have a range to reach America is a new issue which we hear," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news briefing.

"Such a program is not on our agenda and this propaganda of certain American officials is only for media consumption," he said.

Rumsfeld, speaking at the 7th annual Space and Missile Defense Conference Wednesday, named Iran among countries which were allegedly working to develop and deploy missiles capable of reaching the United States.

The US defense secretary cited Iran's successful testing of an upgraded version of its Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile earlier this month.

The testing followed the launch of the Arrow missile-defense system that reportedly destroyed an incoming ballistic missile in a test off the California coast in July 2004.

Iran, having been wary of Israeli weapons development, has stressed that the missile is defensive, while Iranian military commanders have warned of grave consequences if the Zionist state attacks the country.

The tensions have been heightened by the US campaign to organize international pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program, which Tehran says is strictly peaceful.

Iran says the program is in accordance with the country's bid to produce 7,000 megawatts of electricity in the next 20 years, when the country's oil and gas reserves become overstretched.

The United States, however, claims that Tehran's nuclear program is a prelude to building an atomic bomb.

... Payvand News - 8/22/04 ... --

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