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8/20/06

Iran Tests Short-Range Missiles

August 20, 2006 -- Iran today said it test-fired new surface-to-surface short-range missiles, following the start of large-scale military exercises throughout the country to introduce a new defensive doctrine. State-run television ran a video showing 10 missiles being launched from mobile launching pads.

Officials said the missiles were successfully tested in the Kashan Desert, about 250 kilometers southeast of the capital, Tehran.

They said the new surface-to-surface Iranian-made Saeqeh (Lightning) missile has a range of between 80 and 250 kilometers and can evade radar systems.


Iranian soldiers participating in the exercises on August 19 (Mehr)

On August 19, Iran announced large-scale military exercises aimed at introducing the country's new defensive doctrine. Ataollah Salehi, commander-in-chief of Iran's army, said the country should be ready for possible attacks.

"The strengths that you see in the war games are the powers we have obtained from our experience [in fighting] our enemies' ominous objectives," Salehi said. "We have designed plans that will definitely surprise our enemies."

State-run television reported that the exercises -- called Zolfaghar's Strike in reference to a sword that belonged to Imam Ali, a revered figure in Shi'ite Islam -- would occur in 14 of the country's 30 provinces and could last as long as five weeks.

The first stage of the maneuvers began with air strikes in the southeastern province of Sistan va Baluchistan.

Military Plane Crashes

State-run television also reported that a military training plane crashed in northeast Tehran today.

The broadcast said the plane was making an emergency landing on a highway when one of its wings hit a water tank and it burst into flames.

Officials said the only person in the plane, the pilot, survived. They say the plane was not taking part in the military maneuvers.

Iran's military held war games in the Persian Gulf in April, during which they tested new missiles, torpedoes, and other equipment.


Copyright (c) 2006 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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