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Iranian Missile Test Deemed "Worrisome"

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 28, 1998 – Iran tested a medium-range missile July 22 capable of hitting U.S. service members in the Persian Gulf as well as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey and Israel.

Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said the test of the Shahab-3, based on the North Korean Nodong missile, does not mean Iran has an operational capability. He said U.S. officials believe several more tests will be required before Iran is confident of the missile system's ability.

Bacon said the missile is an example of proliferation that should concern all countries. "The test is worrisome because it does represent an effort for [Iran] to expand the range of their missile force," he said during a Pentagon news conference. Iran already possesses Scud-B and -C missiles with ranges of 300 to 500 kilometers. The Nodong has a range of 1,300 kilometers.

Patriot 3 missile batteries provide the only defense for U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region, Bacon noted. The Iranians' test highlights the need for theater missile defense. "We've had some trouble with the [Theater High- Altitude Area Defense] system, but we're working on other systems as well," he said.

The United States is also working on eliminating transfers in technology of missiles and weapons of mass destruction. The United States has had two sets of talks with North Koreans. Russia recently passed new export control laws and, Bacon said, U.S. officials believe China has abided by the terms of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

"We are making progress, but we have not stopped the flow of technology," Bacon said. "I think there's a difference between a program not being 100 percent successful and having some success.

"That's where we are," he continued. "Would we like more success? Absolutely. Do we wish we could convince every country in the world not to sell dangerous technology to other countries? Absolutely. But we haven't done that. That doesn't mean we should give up."

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