declared Wednesday that it had test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missiles, named Sejil, with a 2,000-kilometer (1,200-mile) range, capable of reaching Israel
and US bases in the Gulf.
However, Western experts told the London-based Times
it was probably just another name given to the Shahab 3 missile which had been test-fired on previous occasions.
Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar told state television on Wednesday that Sejil is a swift missile produced by the Iranian aerospace industries, which are subject to his office.
He did not say when the missile was test-fired, but claimed that it was a "two-stage missile carrying two engines with combined solid fuel" and "a highly unusual ability". According to estimates, the test was held several days ago.
Iranian state television today showed footage of the launch of a missile similar in size to Iran's existing Shahab-3 missile, The Times reported.
Washington denounced the missile test, saying it contradicts Iran's international commitments, and called on the Islamic Republic to halt the development of ballistic missiles immediately.
“Iran’s development of ballistic missiles is contrary to United Nations Security Council resolutions and completely inconsistent with Iran’s obligations to the world," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
He added that Tehran should refrain from further missile tests “if they truly seek to gain the trust of the world”.
Andrew Brookes of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies told The Times, "I think the Iranians just keeping on rejigging the same missile and putting a new logo on it. It's basically the Shahab 3 with a different name, and the purpose of the test firing is to tell the world, 'don't forget us', we have missiles that can reach 2,000 kilometers."
"However, the launching of these missiles is not that meaningful because the Iranians have not developed an advanced minituarized warhead to fit into the front end, unless they are getting help from North Korea or Russia, and Moscow says it is not supporting Iran's missile program. So the missiles are rather like the Second World War V2 bombs which scared people but didn't cause mass casualties," he said.
The Iranians from time to time take pride in technological achievements in the arms industry and military fields, mostly in a bid to convey a warning to Western countries that the Islamic Republic is prepared for any scenario of war un the region, should they decide to attack Iran over its refusal to halt its controversial nuclear program.
Many times, however, the reports on Iranian media do not match the actual capabilities of the discussed weapons.
In July, a senior US officer told
CNN that Iranian reports on its missile tests were false. The network quoted him saying that Iran had not conducted trials with long-range missiles, as it had claimed.
The officer said the US believes Iran had fired seven short to medium-range missiles. US intelligence reports stated that one of the missile launches was not successful, and it was fired by the Iranians. The Iranian news agency that generally publishes documentation of drills of this sort has not published any new photos from the large-scale launch that was allegedly held by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The only documentation of the event was published by the Revolutionary Guards' news agency, an irregularity in drills such as this, which are normally covered by nationwide press.
Dudi Cohen and Reuters contributed to this report