The Islamic Republic of Iran test-fired the latest version of its long-range Sajjil-2 missile yesterday, delivering a blunt message that it is ready to retaliate should Israel, the United States or anyone else attempt a military strike against its nuclear enrichment facilities.
Images of the launch were shown on state television. Defence Minister General Ahmad Vahidi said that the new missile would be a “strong deterrent” against a possible attack.
The missiles are capable of travelling 1,200 miles, putting Israel within reach, as well as US bases in the Gulf region and parts of Turkey and south-east Europe.
The firing drew a strong rebuke from Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
“This is a matter of serious concern to the international community and it does make the case for us moving further on sanctions. We will treat this with the seriousness it deserves,” he said.
Diplomats expect Iran's continuing defiance to become the focus of bilateral talks between leaders at the Copenhagen climate forum.
In recent days the US, France and Britain have all publicly advertised their impatience with Iran's position and their readiness to begin work immediately on a fourth round of sanctions against it at the UN Security Council.
Attempts to cajole Iran into accepting a deal under which it would agree to export low-enriched uranium to foreign countries for further processing into fuel for civilian energy generation have proceeded in fits and starts, with Iran at first agreeing to the regime and then stepping back from it.
For its part, Tehran continues to insist that developing an atomic industry is its sovereign right and that the research is aimed only at civil energy generation and has nothing to do with weapons.