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Iran tests new precision-guided ballistic missile

By Reuters - Oct 11,2015 - Last updated at Oct 11,2015

DUBAI — Iran tested a new precision-guided ballistic missile on Sunday in defiance of a United Nations ban, signalling an apparent advance in Iranian attempts to improve the accuracy of its missile arsenal.

The Islamic Republic has one of the largest missile programmes in the Middle East, but its potential effectiveness has been limited by poor accuracy.

State television showed what appeared to be a successful launch of the new missile, named Emad, which will be Iran's first precision-guided weapon with the range to strike its regional arch-enemy Israel.

"The Emad missile is able to strike targets with a high level of precision and completely destroy them... This greatly increases Iran's strategic deterrence capability," Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan said at a televised news conference.

The UN Security Council prohibits foreign powers from assisting Iran in developing its ballistic missile programme in any way, a ban that will remain in place under the terms of the July 14 nuclear deal that will see other sanctions lifted.

The United Nations also prohibits Iran from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles that could deliver a nuclear warhead, which applies to the Emad, but Iranian officials have pledged to ignore the ban.

"We don't ask permission from anyone to strengthen our defence and missile capabilities," Dehghan said.

"Our leadership and armed forces are determined to increase our power and this is to promote peace and stability in the region. There is no intention of aggression or threats in this action," he added.

The Islamic Republic is wary of a potential pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites by Israel. In turn, Israel fears that a nuclear agreement Iran sealed with world powers in July may be insufficient to stop Tehran developing an atomic bomb.

The accord curbs proliferation-prone aspects of Iran's nuclear energy programme in exchange for crippling sanctions being lifted. Iran says its nuclear activity is wholly peaceful. Israel is widely presumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear weapons.

 

Accuracy

 

Anthony Cordesman, a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, wrote in January that the Emad would have a range of 1,700km, 500 metres accuracy and a 750kg payload.

It is a variant of the liquid-fuelled Shahab-3 missile, which has been in service since 2003 and has a similar range but is accurate only to within 2,000 metres.

"The Emad represents a major leap in terms of accuracy. It has an advanced guidance and control system in its nose cone," Israeli missile expert Uzi Rubin said.

But Michael Elleman, senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said it would probably take Iran "many years... and dozens of flight tests" to master the new guidance technology.

In August, Iran unveiled a new short-range missile named Fateh-313, which it said also offered improved precision over its predecessor, as part of an apparent drive to upgrade the accuracy of its missile arsenal.

"What has become increasingly clear is Iran's desire to enhance missile accuracy and lethality, a priority that very likely supersedes the need for seeking longer-range missiles," Elleman said.

 

The Fateh-313 has solid fuel, allowing it to be set up and launched faster than liquid-fuelled missiles, and a range of 500km — enough to hit targets in Gulf Arab powers locked in a regional cold war with the Islamic Republic, but not Israel.

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