TOPICS > Nation

Iran Tests Missiles amid Turmoil with U.S., Israel

BY Admin  July 9, 2008 at 11:05 AM EST

Iranian TV image of Shahab-3 missile; AP photo

Tehran said a new version of the Shahab-3 missile — one of
which was reportedly tested — could strike targets 1,250 miles from its firing
position. Tel Aviv sits just 650 miles from some parts of Iran.

The test-firing of nine medium- and long-range missiles prompted
U.S. presidential hopefuls to outline their opposing views on dealing with Iran.

Republican Sen. John McCain said a missile shield, such as
the one initiated with the Czech Republic earlier this week, would be needed to
protect Israel and critical military points near Iran. The Arizona senator said
the best way to handle the threat of Iranian nuclear development is to build a
strong relationship with surrounding regions.

“Working with our European and regional allies is the best way to meet the
threat posed by Iran, not unilateral concessions that undermine multilateral
diplomacy,” McCain said in a statement.

McCain has often accused his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, of naivete
when dealing with foreign threats. Obama, speaking on CBS’s “Early
Show” Wednesday morning, again emphasized diplomacy coupled with tough
economic sanctions.

“I think what this underscores is the need for us to create a kind of
policy that is putting the burden on Iran to change behavior, and frankly we
just have not been able to do that over the last several years,” he said.

The Islamic Republic News Agency Wednesday morning reported Iranian
Revolutionary Guard Air Force Commander Gen. Hossein Salami saying the test
would demonstrate Iran’s “resolve and might against enemies who in recent
weeks have threatened Iran with harsh language.”

The testing was conducted at the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway where nearly 40
percent of the world’s oil passes and which Iran has threatened to shut down.

Last month, Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgiff, then the commander of the U.S. Navy’s 5th
Fleet, which is stationed in the region, said “any attempt by Iran to seal
off the Strait of Hormuz would be viewed as an act of war,” the AP
reported.

Cosgiff’s announcement came after Israeli warplanes performed a military exercise
that “U.S. officials described as a possibly rehearsal for a strike on
Iran’s nuclear facilities.” Iran has consistently said its uranium
enrichment is for energy development only.

Salami defended the country’s testing program and acknowledged any outside
threat. “Our hands are always on the trigger and our missiles are ready
for launch,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Salami as saying
Wednesday according to the IRNA.

The 1,250-mile range of a new version of the Shahab-3
missile that was tested puts Israel, Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan
and Pakistan within striking distance, the AP reported.

White House officials, speaking from the G-8 summit in Japan, condemned
Wednesday’s testing. “The Iranian regime only furthers the isolation of the
Iranian people from the international community when it engages in this sort of
activity,” said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security
Council.

The Pentagon is studying intelligence on the missile test to
determine exactly what was launched and what it can learn about Tehran’s
missile capabilities, the AP reported. Defense officials said U.S. tracking
systems detected seven missile launches.

In the meantime, the White House called on Tehran to refrain
from any more tests. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the tests are
more evidence that the world needs the U.S. missile defense system.