Iran "making missiles that could hit Europe"

Reuters: Iran is working on long-range missiles capable of hitting European capitals, as well as nuclear and chemical warheads, an exile group has said. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which has in the past given accurate information on some of Iran's nuclear facilities, said Tehran was working on missiles with a range of 2,500 to 3,000 km (1,600 to 1,900 miles), capable of hitting cities such as Berlin. Reuters

By Madeline Chambers

LONDON - Iran is working on long-range missiles capable of hitting European capitals, as well as nuclear and chemical warheads, an exile group has said.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which has in the past given accurate information on some of Iran's nuclear facilities, said Tehran was working on missiles with a range of 2,500 to 3,000 km (1,600 to 1,900 miles), capable of hitting cities such as Berlin.

Iran denies any intention of making long-range ballistic missiles and says its existing medium-range missiles are purely for deterrence.

The NCRI told reporters on Thursday Iran was carrying out research, testing and making the Ghadr 101 and Ghadr 110 missiles, comparable to advanced Scud E missiles, at the Hemmat Missile Industries Complex.

Ghadr means value or merit in Farsi and Shab-e Ghadr refers to the night the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

The NCRI is a coalition of exiled opposition groups fiercely opposed to Iran's clerical rulers. The U.S. State Department lists the NCRI and its armed wing, the People's Mujahideen, as a terrorist organisation.

The exiles also said Tehran had in August tested a Shahab-4 missile with a range of 1,900 to 3,000 km (1,200 to 1,900 miles), depending on the weight of the warhead. Shahab means meteor in Farsi.

Iran has acknowledged it can make large numbers of medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, capable of hitting Israel or U.S. bases in the Gulf, but has repeatedly denied Israeli accusations it is developing Shahab-4.

"Militarily speaking, by obtaining long-range and medium-range missiles, the clerics are trying to put many regions of the world, including all of Europe, within their range," NCRI's Ali Safavi told reporters.

The NCRI acknowledged that the missile programmes did not contravene international law. It provided site maps and detailed explanations but had no blueprints of the work.

Safavi also said Iran's Shahid Karimi Industrial Group was pursuing nuclear and chemical warheads, but he gave few details.

Last month U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested Iran was working to fit missiles with nuclear warheads but Iran says its atomic plants are solely for power generation.

Earlier this week the United Nations' nuclear watchdog decided against referring Iran to the Security Council after Tehran agreed to freeze all activities which could be used to make bomb-grade material.