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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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Important Points About Iran’s Missile Test

December 16, 2009 - 7:05 AM | by: Mike Tobin

With Iran ’s latest missile test, there is a bit of a name game being played. According to the former head of Israel ’s Missile Defense Program, Uzi Rubin, there is no difference between the Sejil1 and the Sejil2. The same missile used to be called the Shura.

This is a two-stage solid-fuel rocket that can reach Tel Aviv, U.S. bases in the Gulf and far beyond.  Iran already had this capability.  So, the test itself does not show an increase in the threat to the international community, but the test does indicate several important developments.

First, Iran made a quantum leap forward with its missile technology.  The predecessor to the Sejil was the Shahab missile, which was a liquid-fueled single-stage rocket, copied from the North Korean Nodong missile.  The Sejil shows that Iranian engineers have left North Korea behind and are producing indigenous missile technology.  Rubin says the Iranian missile capability has jumped from the type of missiles the U.S. had in the 50’s to the type the US had in the 60’s.

Solid fuel is important because the missile can be stored with a full tank. Liquid fueled rockets are stored empty. Fueling rockets takes time and gives an adversary like Israel time to scramble defenses, possibly enough time to destroy the missile before it is launched.

This test also shows Iran ’s aggressiveness with the missile program. “The advance rate is phenomenal,” says Rubin, noting that Iran has now conducted three missile tests in 13 months. It shows just how high a priority missile technology is for the Shiite regime.  Rubin says, “They need to keep testing to prove their past successes were not spurious.”

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