Iran said on Tuesday it was now able to manufacture large quantities of its medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which defense experts say is capable of hitting Israel or U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf.
“We have the capability to mass-produce Shahab-3 missiles,” Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani told reporters.
His comments, reported on several local news agencies, were confirmed by the Defense Ministry.
Iran first deployed the Shahab-3 to its Revolutionary Guards in 2003. Officials have repeatedly said in recent months they could use Shahab-3 to strike back at Israel should it try to attack its nuclear facilities.
Israel and the United States accuse Iran of developing nuclear warheads to deliver with the Shahab-3 but Iran says its atomic facilities are geared solely to generating electricity.
Iran recently announced it had improved Shahab-3’s accuracy and increased its range to 1,250 miles.
That potentially brought parts of southern Europe within Iran’s reach but Shamkhani said the increased range was merely so that Iran could launch the missile from anywhere within its own borders.
“The change in Shahab-3’s range is based on this concept, not to threaten a certain country,” he said.
He also denied accusations that Iran is developing a long-range missile with a range of up to 2,500 miles.
“This is what the Israelis say,” Shamkhani said. “They want to imply that we are seeking to threaten Europe, but we don’t feel any threat from Europe.”
“If we had invested in this we wouldn’t be worried about saying so. In the past seven years we have been very transparent about announcing our missile capability,” he said.