Thursday, July 10, 2008

U.S: Iran lying about missile firing.

Posted with permission:

(CNN) -- Iran did not conduct new long-range missile tests on Thursday, despite Iranian media reports that it did, a senior U.S. military source has told CNN.

Seven short- to medium-range missiles were fired on Wednesday, the U.S. believes.

The United States believes Iran on Wednesday fired seven short- to medium-range missiles, according to the source. At that time one missile did not fire and the Iranians fired it the next day, U.S. intelligence shows.

Iran's Press TV and Fars news agency reported Thursday that Tehran had conducted a second day of missile tests, citing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Fars said the launches, near the Persian Gulf, were a continuation of testing that began Wednesday. Fars said the missiles hit their targets.

Iran launched the long-range Shahab-3 and other weapons Wednesday during exercises in the Persian Gulf region, state-run media said.

Earlier Thursday U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- responding to reports of Iran's latest test-firings of long-range missiles -- made it clear her country was determined to prevent Tehran from threatening the interests of itself and allies like Israel.

She told a news conference in the Georgian capital of Tblisi that the United States had been working with allies to "make certain that they are capable of defending themselves" against any threat from Iran.

"We take very strongly our obligation to help our allies defend themselves and no one should be confused about that," she said. Watch Rice comment on Iranian missiles »

Rice's remarks came after Iranian leaders said they would strike at Israel and close the Straits of Hormuz if Iran was attacked.

The Iranian news agency Fars said the launches, near the Persian Gulf, were a continuation of Wednesday's maneuvers and that the missiles hit their targets successfully.

Iran's Press TV said a "Hoot" torpedo was among those tested. "The maneuvers have also included IRGC scuba divers and marines who conducted practice assaults with speedboats on hypothetical enemy targets," the station added. Watch Iran's latest test-firing of missiles »

Two years ago a report by Jane's Information Group, which provides information on defense issues, described the "Hoot" or Whale as a sonar-evading underwater missile that Iran had said was "one of the fastest in the world" and "able to outpace warships."

World powers, which have long suspected that Iran is intent on building nuclear weapons, have offered economic and other incentives to Iran in exchange for the suspension of its enrichment program.

Iran accuses Israel of trying to destabilize the republic; Israel has not ruled out military action to halt Iran's nuclear aspirations.

There are fears that Israel, which has long been concerned that Iran wants to attack the Jewish state, is pondering a unilateral strike against the Islamic Republic.

"If Washington and Tel Aviv are foolish enough to even consider attacking Iran, our initial response would be to target Israel and set U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf ablaze," Ali Shirazi, an aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tuesday.

The Shahab-3 missile has a range of about 2,000 km, putting all of Israel, Turkey, Pakistan and the Arabian peninsula within striking distance. From Iran the missile's reach extends from southern Russia to the Horn of Africa, from south-eastern Europe to Nepal. See where Iran's missiles could strike »

Zelzal and Fateh missiles were also tested Wednesday during a military exercise called The Great Prophet III, described as a "joint maneuver" by guard corps naval and ground forces in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz region.

The Iranian exercises come a month after an Israeli military drill in the eastern Mediterranean involving dozens of warplanes and aerial tanks. It was seen as a message that Israel has the capability to attack Iran's nuclear program.

Israel issued the same reaction Thursday that it did to Wednesday's missile test. "Israel seeks neither conflict nor hostilities with Iran, but the Iranian nuclear program and the Iranian ballistic missile program must be of concern for the entire International community."

Israel was due Thursday to display an advanced aircraft that is capable of spying on Iran. Israel's Army Radio told CNN that the Eitam airplane is a "practical answer" to recent Iranian "threats."

But Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) -- which manufactures aircraft for both military and civilian use -- said the exhibit was not linked to Israel's recent "tensions" with Iran.

Rather, the airplane is being shown near Ben Gurion International Airport, southeast of Tel Aviv, because it will be at Farnborough International Air Show in southern England next week, an IAI spokeswoman said.

The plane, a Gulfstream G550 business jet that has been modified with sophisticated intelligence-gathering systems, is already part of the Israeli Air Force's fleet.

In her speech Thursday, Rice said a missile defense shield the United States hopes to create in Eastern Europe would be another way to head off any threat from Ira

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