- Iran's defense minister says the latest Fateh-110 missile launch is a success
- The "fourth generation" of the missile can travel 300 kilometers, state media reports
- A recent U.S. government report warned of Iran's improving missile program
Iran has "successfully" test fired its newest version of the Fateh-110 missile, state media reported Saturday, touting the accomplishment despite international concerns about Tehran's growing military capabilities.
Footage from state-run Press TV showed a missile on a rocket launcher in a desert area being fired into the air, before seemingly falling somewhere over the horizon. Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said that the test launch of the missile -- a "fourth generation" of the Fateh-110 -- was a success, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
"Iran is among few ... countries capable of producing such missiles," the minister said in the IRNA report.
The latest Fateh-110 version -- which was tested two years after Iran successfully tested the previous model -- is capable of traveling 300 kilometers (185 miles) and "can target spots without any diversion," IRNA reported. The defense ministry plans to have all home-made missiles with "this new capability," said Vahidi.
Iran's developing missile program has been a hot topic in Washington and elsewhere in recent months, with a new Pentagon report last month finding that Tehran may test a missile that could reach the U.S. mainland within three years.
"Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems with accuracy improvements and new submunition payloads," which allow missiles to drop explosives over a wider area thus causing more destruction, according to the Pentagon report.
The report, which was signed by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and sent to senators and U.S. representatives on defense committees, said Iran is continuing to develop other missiles that can hit Israel and Eastern Europe, including an extended-range Shabab-3 and a medium-range ballistic missile called the Ashura that can fly more than 1,200 miles.
Iran is still capable of testing a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015 "without sufficient foreign assistance," the report added.
The United States and NATO have begun to field an anti-ballistic missile shield in the southern and eastern parts of Europe to protect from such a threat. But John Pike, a weapons analyst with the GlobalSecurity.org research group, said the missile shield is not yet fully operational.
Washington has led international efforts aimed at stymieing Tehran's nuclear program, as well as its ballistic missile proliferation activities. But despite widespread sanctions, Iranian officials have been publicly defiant and regularly highlight developments in both arenas.