The Age

Iran lets world see it flex its missiles

Date: 29/06/2011
Words: 233
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: News
Page: 14
IRAN has unveiled underground silos that would make its missiles less vulnerable, the latest show of force in the long standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

State television broadcast images of an unspecified number of silos deep underground, considered harder to destroy than surface ones.

Colonel Asghar Qelichkhani said the silos functioned as a "swift-reaction unit". The missiles were permanently in the vertical position and "ready to hit the predetermined targets".

The silos were presented as Iran's Revolutionary Guards began 10 days of military exercises.

Last year, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, an arms analysis group in London, reported "emerging evidence" of Iranian silos that could fire missiles at Iraq, Israel, Turkey and countries throughout the Gulf.

State TV report showed an underground launching pad for what it called the Shahab-3 missile, which has a range of about 2000 kilometres.

The commander of the Revolutionary Guard's Aerospace Force, Brigadier-General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said the silos were a crucial asset with which "we are certain that we can confront unequal enemies" and defend the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Israel, deeply wary of Iran's nuclear program, has accused Tehran of receiving assistance from North Korea in building underground missile sites.

Tehran is calling the war games The Great Prophet Six, and says they will include tests of long-range missiles such as the Sajjil, which has a longer range than the Shahab-3.

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