Iran Shows Off Missile Might
Amid Nuclear Fears

By Christian Oliver

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran, under pressure to dispel fears it is developing nuclear arms, Monday paraded six of its newly deployed medium-range missiles, which military analysts say could reach Israel or U.S. bases in the Gulf.
It was the largest number of Shahab-3 ballistic missiles put on public display since Iran announced in July it had finished testing the weapon and deployed it to the Revolutionary Guards.
The sand-colored Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, towed along to the accompaniment of rousing military music, were the climax of a lengthy parade to commemorate the start of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami said the show of strength should not be read as saber-rattling.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran's policy is based on detente," he said at the parade led by disabled war veterans.
"We are opposed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons but we insist on our absolute right to be powerful in the scientific and technological arena."
Uzi Rubin, former director of Israel's Arrow anti-ballistic missile system program, said Iran's Shahab-3 was a clear threat to the Jewish state.
"The (Shahab's) increased range covers the whole of Israel, north to south, from deployment areas deep within Iran, and thus increases concern as to what would happen if such missiles were armed with WMD warheads," he told Reuters.
Television pictures showed one of the missile carriers displayed a defiant message in bold letters on a giant yellow banner facing Khatami. "We will stamp on America," it read.
Iran insists its nuclear scientists are not working on a weapons program but trying to meet soaring electricity demand.
U.N. nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declined to comment on the missiles. The IAEA Governing Board has given Iran until the end of October to dispel doubts that its stated policy of developing nuclear energy was not a cover for building atomic arms.
Hard-liners in Iran say Tehran should follow North Korea's example and pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty rather than cave in to international pressure.
But Mohsen Aminzadeh, deputy foreign minister for Asia-Pacific affairs and seen as a close aide to the reform-minded Khatami, said Iran must regain international trust by signing the NPT Additional Protocol for snap inspections of nuclear sites.
"America accuses us of having a clandestine nuclear program. We deny it but that is not enough to neutralize America's plots against us," he said.
"If there is no other way to change the negative atmosphere created by America against Iran but accepting the Additional Protocol, then accepting the protocol is beneficial for us," he told the official IRNA news agency.
Based on the North Korean Nodong-1 and modified with Russian technology, the Shahab-3 is thought to have a range of 810 miles.
Iran says it is intended to serve purely as a deterrent and has not declared how many Shahab-3 it has been able to manufacture. Military analysts say questions remain about its reliability and accuracy.
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