Monday

27th Mar 2017

Iran claims missile test with Europe in range

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed to have sucessfully tested another ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe.

Speaking in the northern Iranian city of Semnan, where the Sajil-2 missile was allegedly test-fired, Mr Ahmadinejad said the blast was a success and "met the predetermined target."

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  • President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad campaigns for re-election (Photo: Wikipedia)

If its alleged range of almost 2,000 kilometers is true, the missile could reach Athens, southern Italy and the Black Sea coast of new EU members Romania and Bulgaria.

A similar test was carried out in November, while in February Iran launched a domestically-made satellite that prompted France and Great Britain to express their concerns over the missile capabilities of the Islamic state.

Israel, also a nuclear power, said Wednesday's test should be more of a concern to Europe, since previous missiles tested by Iran could already reach the Jewish state.

With presidential elections scheduled for 12 June, the test could also be read as part of Mr Ahmadinejad's re-election campaign, as three other contenders have been approved by Iran's electoral council.

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini had to cancel at the very last minute a trip to Tehran when he found out that Iranian authorities had organised his meeting with reformist ex-president Mohammed Khatami in Semnan, where the missile was tested, not in the capital as initially agreed.

Iran made the venue switch from Tehran to the Semnan missile site a condition for the visit, the Italian foreign ministry said.

Mr Frattini's visit would have given Mr Ahmadinejad an electoral boost, as it would have been most senior visit from a European country since he came to power four years ago.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, visited Iran a year ago but EU governments said they would avoid individual visits because of Tehran's refusal to halt its nuclear programme.

Mr Frattini intended to ask Tehran to send a high-level delegation to an international conference in Italy next month on stabilising Afghanistan and Pakistan, diplomatic sources told Italian news agency Ansa.

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