US confirms Iranian missile launch

May 21st, 2009 - 3:03 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, May 21 (DPA) The US Wednesday confirmed that Iran successfully conducted a test of the latest version of its medium-range missile.
The missile test came as US President Barack Obama restated his willingness to engage in diplomacy with Iran, but also warned he would move to strengthen international sanctions if the Islamic state rebuffed his attempts to begin negotiation over its nuclear activities.

“They did launch a missile and it does appear successful,” said a US defence official, who requested anonymity.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton did not specifically address the missile test during congressional testimony Wednesday, but reasserted that a nuclear-armed Iran would not be acceptable.

“A nuclear armed Iran with a deliverable weapons system is going to spark an arms race in the Middle East,” Clinton said.

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the successful test that took place just weeks ahead of June presidential elections in the country. He said in a speech in Semnan, which lies in north-eastern Iran and where he said the missile was launched, that the Sejil-2 was more advanced than previous missiles.

There are varying opinions as to when Iran will have a nuclear weapons and the capability of delivering a warhead on a missile.

A US-Russian team of scientists released a report Tuesday that concluded Iran was at least five years away from developing the capability to fire a ballistic missile equipped with a nuclear warhead over long distances.

Obama said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday that he expected a positive response from the Iranians on desire for direct diplomacy by the end of this year.

The Iranian missile has the range to hit Israel and US bases in the region. Netanyahu has identified Iran as the gravest threat in the Middle East.

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