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Iran president unveils drone bomber

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has unveiled Iran's first domestically-built unmanned bomber aircraft, calling it an "ambassador of death" to the country's enemies.

The 4m-long drone aircraft can carry up to four cruise missiles and will have a range of 620 miles, according to a state TV report - but not far enough to reach arch-enemy Israel.

"The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship," Mr Ahmadinejad said at the inauguration ceremony in Tehran.

The goal of the aircraft, named Karrar or striker, was to keep the enemy paralysed in its bases, he said, adding that the aircraft was for deterrence and defensive purposes.

The president championed the country's military self-sufficiency programme and said it would continue "until the enemies of humanity lose hope of ever attacking the Iranian nation".

Iran launched an arms development programme during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a US weapons embargo and now produces its own tanks, armoured personnel carries, missiles and even a fighter plane.

It frequently makes announcements about new advances in military technology that cannot be independently verified.

State TV later showed video footage of the plane taking off from a launching pad and reported that the craft travelled at speeds of 560mph and could alternatively be armed with two 250lb bombs or a 450lb guided bomb.

Iran has been producing its own light, unmanned surveillance aircraft since the late 1980s.

The ceremony came a day after Iran began to fuel its first nuclear power reactor, with the help of Russia, amid international concerns over the possibility of a military dimension to its nuclear programme. Iran insists it is only interested in generating electricity.

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