Britain voiced renewed concern over Iran’s military ambitions today, after Tehran claimed it had successfully test-fired an upgraded version of its short-range ballistic missile.
The Foreign Office said the test called into question Iran’s claims that its nuclear programme is purely for civilian power generation, and not for military use as many in the international community suspect.
Iran’s defence minister, Ahmad Vahidi, said the Fateh-110 missile has a 185-mile (300km) range and can strike with pin-point precision, making it Tehran’s most accurate weapon.
Earlier versions of the solid-propellant surface-to-surface missile, developed by Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organisation and first put into service in 2002, have a range of 120 miles (200km).
Iranian state TV quoted General Vahidi as saying: “By reaching this generation of the Fateh-110, a new capability has been added to our armed forces in striking sea and land targets. Few countries in the world possess the technology to build such missiles.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are concerned by the reports of the test of a short-range ballistic missile. This move calls into question again Iran’s stated commitment to a purely peaceful nuclear programme.
“We remain concerned that Iran continues to develop missile technology with the clear intention of extending the range and sophistication of its missiles.”
Iran also has a variety of longer-ranged missiles, including a Shahab-3 with a range of 1,200 miles (2,000km) capable of reaching Israel – 600 miles (965km) from Iran’s western borders – as well as southern Europe. Many of its missiles could in theory carry a nuclear warhead.