Iran says starts making new anti-aircraft missile

TEHRAN Sat Jun 6, 2009 2:48pm IST

Iran's Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar attends a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Lieutenant General Hassan Ali Turkmani (not in picture) in Tehran in this June 15, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/Files

Iran's Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar attends a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Lieutenant General Hassan Ali Turkmani (not in picture) in Tehran in this June 15, 2006 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl/Files

Related Topics

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has started production of a new ground-to-air missile system, Iranian media reported on Saturday, amid persistent speculation that Israel might attack the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities.

"The range of this defence system (missile) is more than 40 km and it is able to pursue and hit the enemy's airplanes and helicopters on a smart basis and at supersonic speed," Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said, without specifying how the missile compared to previous such weapons.

Najjar was quoted by Iran's Fars News Agency three days after Israel issued contradictory signals on whether it might bomb Iran, with its foreign minister saying there were no such plans and the defence minister saying all options were open.

The missile announcement came less than a week before a June 12 presidential election, in which conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is facing a challenge from moderates advocating a detente in Tehran's international relations.

Fars, a semi-official news agency, said production of the Shahin (hawk) missile defence system was one of the "most important and complex projects" undertaken by Iran's defence industry after the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran's Press TV said all parts of Shahin were produced in the country, which is under U.N. and U.S. sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme.

The United States and Israel accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies, and have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the row.

Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, has repeatedly described Iran's nuclear programme as a threat to its existence.

Iranian leaders often dismiss talk of a possible strike by Israel, saying it is not in a position to threaten Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter. They say Iran would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests and Israel.

The Islamic state often makes announcements of advances in its defence capabilities, including production of new weaponry.

Military experts say Iran rarely reveals enough detail about its new military equipment to determine its efficacy but say the Islamic Republic, despite having much less fire-power than U.S. forces, could still cause havoc in the Gulf if it was pushed.

Last month, it said it had tested a missile that defence analysts say could hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf.

In March, Russia's Interfax news agency said Moscow may freeze a reported deal to deliver S-300 air defence systems to Iran. The United States and Israel had watched with unease reports on supplies of Russia's formidable S-300 system to Iran.

The possession of an air defence system as efficient as the S-300 could help Iran fend off potential air strikes by Israel and the United States on its nuclear sites.

FILED UNDER:

WORLD NEWS

Reuters Showcase

GDP Growth

GDP Growth

India's economic growth revised up by almost 50 pct.  Full Article 

Stake Sale

Stake Sale

Strong demand for Coal India boosts privatisation drive.  Full Article 

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Child Trafficking

Child Trafficking

Police find hundreds of child slaves making bangles - media   Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

England Beat India

England Beat India

England reach final after Taylor-made victory.  Full Article 

Change Of Heart

Change Of Heart

Justin Bieber says dropping 'arrogant' and 'conceited' attitude  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage