Iran conducts nine missile tests

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard has conducted a missile test exercise, in which nine missiles of three different types were launched simultaneously. The exercise, known as Great Prophet III was conducted early this morning from an undisclosed location near to the Strait of Hormuz. One of the missiles launched was an upgraded version of the Shahab-3, capable of reaching Eastern European countries like Bulgaria and Greece as well and Middle Eastern countries such as Israel, Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula. Eight shorter range Zelzal and Fateh missiles were also launched.

Estimated range of the Shahab-3 missile.

The Iranians have been under international pressure to withraw from their plans of achieving nuclear proficiency, but have rejected putting a hold on their programme and have also been moving forward with their rocketry programme.

The test is believed to have been a reaction to Israeli and American military exercises, which the Iranian government believed to be training for an attack on facilities related to the Iranian nuclear development programme. In addition to these tests, Iran's first indigenous satellite launch attempt, which will place the Omid spacecraft into low Earth orbit, is expected immanently. A successful satellite launch would demonstrate that Iran's missiles have global reach.

The tests have been widely criticised by the international community. The British government stated that it "underlines the need for Iran to comply with its international obligations on the nuclear issue", and that the test was "unwelcome". The French ministry of defence suggested that "these missile tests can only reinforce the concerns of the international community", and the German government described the exercise as "regrettable". Israeli housing minister Ze'ev Boim told the Israeli parliament that Israel should "prepare itself to do what is needed to do", implying the need for a military resolution.

These missile tests can only reinforce the concerns of the international community.

French Ministry of Defence

The United States government claims that the test was "evidence that the missile threat is not an imaginary one". American presidential candidate John McCain suggested that it justified US proposals to construct a missile defence system in Eastern Europe, whilst his opponent Barack Obama described Iran's missile programme as a "great threat". Russia, however called for diplomacy, stating that they believe Iran to be "ready for negotiations", and Israel's Prime Minister issued a statement saying that he had "no desire for conflict or hostilities with Iran".