Iran unveils new, more accurate ballistic missile technology

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Iran's Revolutionary Guard has unveiled a new ballistic missile, the country's state TV reported Sunday, amid heightened tensions with the US.

Iran routinely unveils what it describes as technological advances for its armed forces ahead of the February anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

State television said the missile, called Raad-500, or thunder, had half the weight of a similar ballistic missile, Fateh-110, but had 200 kilometres (some 120 miles) more range. The fourth generation of Fateh-110 has 300 kilometres (some 180 miles) range.

The Guards also unveiled a new missile engine that uses solid fuel and a satellite carrier that has "movable nozzle technology". The technology increases a missile's accuracy in hitting targets.

The US alleges such activities defy a UN Security Council resolution calling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

On the same day, an Iranian minister said Tehran will launch a satellite on Sunday as part of a programme the US says is cover for ballistic missile testing.

“The Zafar satellite will be placed in orbit today from Semnan at a speed of 7,400 kilometres” per hour, Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, said, the official IRIB news agency reported.

The United States says it is concerned that long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran denies its satellite activity is a cover for missile development and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.

A January 26 satellite image from Planet Labs Inc that has been annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies shows preparations at a rocket launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre in Iran. Planet Labs Inc, Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP

President Donald ’s administration reimposed sanctions on Iran after Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from an international accord designed to curb Iran’s nuclear programme. Trump said the deal did not go far enough and did not include restrictions on Tehran’s missile programme.

The announcement was made a day after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran should increase its military might to prevent a war.

“We should be strong to prevent any war against the country. Being weak will encourage our enemies to attack Iran,” Khamenei, Iran’s top authority said, state news agency IRNA reported.

The Islamic republic has faced mounting pressure from western countries to curtail its military capabilities, including its ballistic missile programme.

Once the satellite is in orbit, the first picture that it will transmit will be of Suleimani, minister Mr Azari-Jahromi said on Sunday.

Iran tried and failed to launch satellites at least twice last year.

It launched its first satellite Omid (Hope) in 2009 and the Rasad, or Observation, satellite was sent into orbit in June 2011. Tehran said in 2012 it had launched its third domestically made satellite Navid (Promise).

Updated: February 9, 2020 05:01 PM

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