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Iranian test of upgraded missile sends message to the West

This photo released by the Iranian Students News Agency claims to show the launch.

Associated Press

This photo released by the Iranian Students News Agency claims to show the launch.

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Wednesday test fired an upgraded version of an advanced missile capable of hitting Israel and parts of Europe, an apparent show of strength aimed at discouraging attacks on its nuclear facilities.

The test of the medium-range Sajjil-2 fueled calls for tougher sanctions against Tehran, which has resisted U.N. demands that it rein in its nuclear ambitions. Iran touted the launch as a success proving it can deter any U.S. or Israeli military strike against its nuclear facilities.

In Washington, Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell called the launch provocative but said the technology was not "particularly different than anything we've seen in the past."

But equally important is the political message, said Washington-based security analyst Alex Vatanka.

"One signal is very clear — they are saying Iran will not negotiate with the West from a position of weakness. They are saying: If you think sanctions and threats are something to worry us, then you are mistaken," said Vatanka, with the intelligence analyst group Jane's. "The message from Iran today is that Tehran can do more, Iran's arm is long."

Wednesday's test was the third for the Sajjil-2 since it was unveiled in May. It has the longest range of any in Iran's arsenal, about 1,200 miles — putting Israel, and U.S. bases in the Gulf region well within reach. It could also reach parts of southeastern and eastern Europe.

Iranian test of upgraded missile sends message to the West 12/16/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 8:35pm]

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