Iran anniversary 'punch' will stun West
Iran develops air defense system comparable to Russia's S-300
Iran has developed its own air defense system comparable to and even more sophisticated than the Russian S-300 system, the IRNA news agency said Monday, citing an Iranian military official.
Russia signed a contract with Iran on the supply of at least five S-300 air defense systems to Tehran in December 2005. However, there have been no official reports on the start of the contract's implementation.
"In the near future, a new domestically-made air defense system will be unveiled by the country's experts and scientists which is as powerful as the S-300 system, or even stronger," IRNA quoted Heshmatollah Kassiri.
He said the delay in the implementation of the S-300 delivery contract was unacceptable, and Iran would do everything possible to protect its "sensitive nuclear centers."
Iranian Ambassador to Russia Seyyed Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi earlier said the S-300 contract had been stagnated by some technical issues.
However, many experts believe Moscow has refused so far to honor the S-300 contract due to pressure from Washington and Tel Aviv.
Both the United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program and have expressed concern over S-300 deliveries, which would significantly strengthen Iran's air defenses.
Russian defense industry officials have repeatedly said that Russia is interested in fulfilling the contract, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but the future of the contract would largely depend on the current situation in international affairs and the Kremlin's position.
The advanced version of the S-300 missile system, called S-300PMU1 (SA-20 Gargoyle), has a range of over 150 kilometers (over 100 miles) and can intercept ballistic missiles and aircraft at low and high altitudes, making the system an effective tool for warding off possible air strikes. RIA Novosti
Iran builds own aerial drones with strike capabilities
Iran started on Monday production of two domestically-developed unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering high-precision bombing strikes and performing reconnaissance missions, the Fars news agency said.
Iran unveiled the drones, dubbed Ra'd (Thunder) and Nazir (Harbinger), at a plant in the northern province of Mazandaran.
"We plan to manufacture UAVs...at this site" Fars quoted Hamed Saeedi, managing director of Farnas Aerospace Company in charge of the project, as saying.
He said both UAVs were short-range, low-altitude drones with reduced radar-detection signature.
According to analysts, Iran has recently made significant progress in developing various types of combat planes and succeeded in gaining the technical know-how for producing aircraft and drones with stealth capabilities.
Iran launched a domestic arms development program after a U.S. weapons embargo was imposed during its 1980-88 war with Iraq. Since 1992, the Islamic Republic has reportedly produced its own Saeqeh and Azarakhsh jet fighters, stealth-capable Ghadir submarine, missile boats, torpedoes, tanks and armored carrier vehicles.
Iran frequently holds military drills and shows off modern weaponry in an effort to demonstrate its readiness to thwart any attack on its territory. RIA Novosti
Iran successfully launches satellite
Iran said on Wednesday it had successfully launched a satellite carrying an "experimental capsule" as part of events to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
State media said the domestically-built Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3) rocket was carrying a rat, a turtle and worms into space for research purposes. The rocket transfers telemetric data, live pictures and flight and environmental analysis data.
Kavoshgar 3 is an updated version of the previous models. Iran blasted Kavoshgar 1 into space in February 2008. Kavoshgar 2, carrying a space-lab and a restoration system, was launched in November 2008.
In other space-related events in Iran, national media showed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiling a new domestically-built satellite booster rocket, Simorgh, capable of carrying a 100-kg satellite up to 500 km above the planet.
The Islamic Republic also presented the domestically-produced Tolou, Mesbah-2 and Navid telecommunication satellites.
Western powers suspect Iran of using its space program to develop its missile capabilities. Iran has denied the charge.
Iran's first research satellite, Omid (Hope), designed for gathering information and testing equipment, was orbited last February and successfully completed its mission on April 25, 2009.
In 2005, Iran launched its first commercial satellite, Sina-1, into orbit from a Russian rocket.
Iran is expected to unveil five space projects during Feb 2-11 celebrations to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. RIA Novosti
Iran anniversary 'punch' could stun West like this:
|Iran Nuclear Move Angers West, and Russia|
By Anoush Maleki
Officials from the United States, France and Russia said Monday serious measures should be taken against Iran after the country informed the UN nuclear agency of its plans to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity for a medical research reactor in Tehran.
The countries had hoped to keep a dormant proposal, backed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), alive and take the bulk of Iran's low enriched uranium for further refinement, turn it into special metal fuel rods, and then return it to the country during a lengthy process for a hefty price.
Iran made counterproposals to facilitate an agreement but the other side lacked flexibility and the Obama administration threatened that punishment would await the Tehran government should the deal fail to go through.
The Islamic Republic, which as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is entitled to enrichment — an important part of the nuclear fuel cycle in which the concentration of fissile uranium-235 atoms within uranium is increased to the required level — for civilian purposes, ignored the threats and said as a buyer, it should freely look for bargains and a potentially improved deal.
After months of delay, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on Sunday decided to produce the 20 percent enriched uranium domestically while the negotiations remain open for the second part of the proposal — in which the nuclear material is formed into special metal rods for the research reactor.
On Monday, the country's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, informed the agency of the decision.
However, the move threw officials in the West into a frenzy and a barrage of criticism followed as Israel, which has miraculously managed to contain its warmongering since the conclusion of the 2008 Gaza invasion in early 2009, called for "a determined campaign of decisive and permanent sanctions against Iran."
Israel, which is widely believed to possess hundreds of nuclear weapons in the world's most volatile region, has for years threatened to militarily strike Iranian nuclear infrastructure under the allegation that Tehran poses an "existential threat" and the nation is governed by a regime which is hell-bent on starting a nuclear war.
The Obama administration has forced the regime to trim down its war rhetoric and follow in the footsteps of the White House, which promotes "diplomacy" with Tehran — a diplomacy which is backed by attractive incentives and harsh sanctions.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, after meeting with his French counterpart on Monday, reacted to Iran's move and said new sanctions are the only choice left to deal with the country.
"We must still try and find a peaceful way to resolve this issue. The only path that is left to us at this point, it seems to me, is that pressure track but it will require all of the international community to work together," Gates said at a joint news conference with Herve Morin, who confirmed there is no choice but "to work on other measures," Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, Russia, which had remained unmoved by US pressures on Iran, seems to have jumped ship. An Influential lawmaker said the world must "immediately" inform Tehran that it is risking new sanctions if it did not accept the fuel swap deal.
Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the powerful Duma foreign affairs committee, told the Interfax news agency that Tehran should be sent "a fresh signal" that the world powers are "prepared to respond to this step with serious measures, up to toughening the economic sanctions."
"This signal must be loud and clear," insisted Mr. Kosachev, whose country has delayed the construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant in Bushehr for more than a decade.
Moscow enjoys close diplomatic and economic ties with Tehran. However, it has never hesitated to back Western initiatives against the Iranian government whenever its own interests require it to.
Hassan Beheshtipour, a senior Iran expert with knowledge on the country's nuclear capabilities, said the country can easily enrich uranium to 20 percent, as the newly installed centrifuges in the Natanz plant will quickly increase output.
But Iran does not possess the technology to manufacture the fuel assemblies. Therefore, there is a possibility that, as President Ahmadinejad has suggested, Iran will seek to negotiate for the second part of the original UN-backed fuel swap proposal, Mr. Beheshtipour said.
And that would effectively leave out Russia from a potential deal; thus the Russian reaction.
The riposte to Iran's announcement of its intention to exercise its nuclear rights is yet to sway China from promoting diplomacy and pushing for more negotiations with Tehran.
Beijing is a veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council and has close relations with Tehran. It has also deeply invested in Iran's energy sector.
Whether China will decide to punish the major oil exporter for seeking to develop its nuclear program is a question that the United States is holding its breath on. But Iran, nonetheless, will move forward with its plans.
Mr. Soltanieh, the Iranian nuclear envoy, told Press TV that he has asked the UN nuclear agency to dispatch its inspectors to Iran to oversee the process of the 20 percent enrichment work. PressTV
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