Iran missile test draws Western condemnation

Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:23am EST
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By Fredrik Dahl and Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's hard-line rulers sent uncompromising signals to foes at home and abroad on Wednesday, warning of possible legal action against opposition leaders and testing an upgraded missile that could reach Israel.

The United States said the launch of a Sejil 2 missile, with a reported range that would put the Jewish state and U.S. Gulf bases within reach, undermined Iran's claim of peaceful intentions and would be looked upon seriously by the world.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the test boosted the case for tougher sanctions over the oil producer's disputed nuclear program, which the West fears is aimed at making bombs. Tehran says it seeks only to generate electricity.

"This is a matter of serious concern to the international community and it does make the case for us moving further on sanctions," Brown said in Copenhagen.

But in Washington, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the test did not reveal any new capabilities.

"I'm not going to get into the particulars of what our intelligence shows other than to say I don't think there was anything here that was particularly different than what we've seen in the past," Morrell said.

White House spokesman Mike Hammer said the test would "increase the seriousness and resolve of the international community to hold Iran accountable for its continued defiance of its international obligations on its nuclear program."

Analysts say political turmoil in Iran since a disputed presidential election in June has further clouded prospects for a resolution of the nuclear dispute. Internal tension has increased since student backers of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi clashed in Tehran last week with security forces.   Continued...

<p>A long-range, improved Sejil 2 missile is test-fired in the desert at an unknown location in Iran in this Iranian military handout distributed by Fars news agency on December 16, 2009. REUTERS/Fars News/Handout</p>