Russia outs Iran on missile capacity
Iranian President Ahmadinejad (L) and Russian Prime Minister Putin are seen as shaking hands in this file photo. Moscow says Tehran does not have the technology to create intermediate or long-range inter-continental ballistic missiles. REUTERS photoIran’s military yesterday warned one of the U.S. Navy’s biggest aircraft carriers to keep away from the Persian Gulf in an escalating showdown over Tehran’s nuclear program as Moscow argued against Tehran, saying Iran had no long-range missiles.
“Iran does not have the technology to create intermediate or long-range inter-continental ballistic missiles,” Defense Ministry spokesman Vadim Koval told the Interfax news agency. “And it will not get such missiles any time soon,” he said. Iran reported testing three missiles close to the gulf oil-transit waterway Jan. 2 amid preparations by Western powers to impose more economic sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear drive. Two of the missiles can fly a maximum 200 km, generally considered short-range weapons, although the Iranian media and a navy spokesman described one of them as “long-range.” The other, a Nasr anti-ship missile, had a shorter range of 35 km.
‘Iran will not repeat its warning’
Russia has relatively close ties with Iran and built its first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr. Moscow has also delivered the nuclear fuel for the reactor. Iran’s aggressive statement came from its armed forces chief. “We advise and insist that this warship not return to its former base in the Persian Gulf,” said Brig. Gen. Ataollah Salehi. “We don’t have the intention of repeating our warning, and we warn only once,” he was quoted as saying by the armed forces’ official website, Agence France-Presse reported.
The message came after Iran completed 10 days of naval maneuvers at the entrance to the Gulf to show it could close the strategic oil shipping channel in the Strait of Hormuz if it felt threatened. The aircraft carrier Salehi was referring to was the USS John C. Stennis, one of the U.S. Navy’s biggest warships. The massive nuclear-powered vessel transports up to 90 fighter jets and helicopters and is usually escorted by around five destroyers. It is close to finishing its seven-month deployment at sea.
The carrier last week passed through the Strait of Hormuz, heading east across the Gulf of Oman and through the zone where the Iranian navy was conducting its maneuvers. The U.S. Defense Department called its passage “routine.” Iran’s armed forces chief-of-staff Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi added to the defiance by saying the Revolutionary Guards, an elite military force apart from the regular defense services, would soon hold its own naval maneuvers in the gulf.
FAEZEH SENTENCED TO JAIL
TEHRAN – The Associated Press
The daughter of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been convicted and sentenced to six months in prison on charges of making propaganda against the ruling system. The conservative mashreghnews.ir website reported yesterday that Tehran’s Revolutionary Court also banned Faezeh Hashemi from taking part in political, cultural and media activities for the next five years. Hashemi has 20 days to appeal the sentence. Her trial took place behind closed doors last month. Her lawyer, Gholam Ali Riahi, has said the charges against her are related to interviews she gave to news websites. Hashemi appeared at opposition protests after the disputed June 2009 presidential elections and was briefly detained in February.