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Officially, Tehran says the maximum range of its ballistic missiles is limited to just over 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometres), enough to reach Israel and Saudi Arabia. However, writing for the Breaking Defence website, analyst Ralph Savelsberg suggests the Islamic republic has the capability to hit targets in Italy and even Germany using a previously unknown Satellite Launch Vehicle known as the Qased.
The new hardware was used by Iran to launch its Noor satellite in April in a move which surprised the international community.
Mr Savelsberg, an associate professor at the Netherlands Defence Academy, who specialises in missile defence, subsequently undertook a detailed analysis of the Qaseb, based on open sources and using computer simulations to calculate trajectories.
He found similarities to the Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which has a range of just over 700 miles, as well as the Safir SLV, as well as a number of unusual facilities.
Consequently, with certain modifications, Iran would be able to use it as weapon, Mr Savelsberg said.
He added: “With the heavier payload, much of Central and Eastern Europe is in range.
“With the smaller payload, the range is extended to include locations further to the west, including much of Germany and Italy, as well as parts of Northern Europe.
“While it is by no means certain that the Qased is indeed intended as step towards a ballistic missile with a longer range than Iran’s current arsenal, these results show that it could be.”
Mr Savelsberg’s analysis comes against a background of increasing tension between Tehran and the west, especially the United States, with Donald Trump having ordered the assassination of military commander Qassem Soleimani at the start of the year.
Iran responded by launching rocket attacks on Iraqi military bases where US soldiers were based – a move which Mr Savelsberg said had demonstrated Tehran had “made great leaps in improving the accuracy of its ballistic missiles”.
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today urged the UN Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran before it expires in October, prompting Russia to slam Washington’s policy towards Tehran as like “putting a knee” to the country’s neck.
The United States has circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council which would indefinitely extend the arms embargo on Tehran.
However, Russia and China, which both have the power to veto such a move, have already signalled their opposition.
Mr Pompeo told a virtual Security Council meeting: “Don’t just take it from the United States, listen to countries in the region.
“From Israel to the Gulf, countries in the Middle East who are most exposed to Iran’s predations are speaking with one voice: Extend the arms embargo.”
US President Donald Trump’s administration has long argued the arms embargo on Iran should not be lifted.
The arms embargo is set to end in mid-October in accordance with the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JPOCA) nuclear deal signed in 2015 with Britain, Germany, France, China, Russia and the administration of Mr Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.
Since Mr Trump took office in 2017, his administration has quit the JPCOA and ramped up sanctions on Iran.
Washington has described the approach as one of “maximum-pressure”.
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