Iran missile test draws Western condemnation

Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:17pm 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.

A senior Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said senior diplomats from the major powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program were expected to hold a conference call, possibly on Tuesday, to discuss the next steps.

The official said the so-called P5+1 powers -- the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany -- will probably be looking "more and more" at applying pressure to get Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions, with the focus moving to the United Nations in New York early next year.

The permanent members of the Security Council are the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain.

Iranian officials have been dismissive of foreign sanctions. A senior Iranian energy official said on Wednesday recent sanctions proposed by U.S. lawmakers aimed at cutting into Iran's gasoline imports will not work.   Continued...