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Iran Test-Fires Another New Missile, State Media Reports


The national flag flutters next to a ground-to-ground Sejil missile before being launched at an undisclosed location in Iran.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran has test-fired a new-generation surface-to-surface missile, state media said, and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad repeated once again that the Islamic republic would crush any power acting against it.

Iran's latest missile test followed persistent speculation in recent months of possible U.S. or Israeli strikes against its nuclear facilities, which the West suspects form part of a covert weapons program. Tehran denies the charge.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, like outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, has not ruled out military action although he has criticized the Bush administration for not pushing for more diplomacy and engagement with Tehran.

The launch of the Sejil missile
Iran's Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said the Iranian-made missile named Sejil had "extremely high capabilities," had a range of close to 2,000 kilometers, and was only intended for defensive purposes.

"This missile test is in the framework of Iran's deterrent doctrine," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying, adding it had no connection with recent international events.

Iran's English-language Press TV said the Sejil missile had two stages, was of a type that used combined solid fuel, and showed the Islamic state's capability to "defend its soil."

A missile was shown soaring from a platform in desertlike terrain, leaving a long vapor trail.

'Iranian Machismo'

It came a day after media said the Revolutionary Guards had test-fired another missile called Samen near the Iraqi border.

"They do it [such tests] all the time. It's Iranian machismo," said Tim Ripley, an analyst at "Jane's Defense Weekly."

Two stages could increase a missile's range, Ripley said, noting that Iran had in the past borrowed technology from North Korea although he said he could not say if that was true this time.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking to build atomic bombs. Iran says it only aims to generate electricity.

Iran has said it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests and U.S. ally Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz, a vital route for world oil supplies.

It test-fired nine missiles in July, including one that reportedly could reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East.

President Ahmadinejad, who often rails against the West, told a rally in the northern province of Mazandaran that Iran would defeat its enemies.

"The Iranian nation defends its honor and whichever power that wants to stand against the movement of the Iranian nation, the Iranian nation will crush it under its foot and slap it on the mouth," he said in a speech broadcast live on television.

Last week, Iran's military said U.S. helicopters had been seen flying close to Iran's border and that it would respond to any violation, a message analysts said seemed directed at Obama more than U.S. troops in Iraq.

It followed a cross-border raid last month by U.S. forces into Syria, a move that was condemned by Damascus and Tehran,