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Mysterious light over Middle East identified as Russian missile test
Saturday, 09 June 2012
By AL ARABIYA
A mysterious light reported in Iran, Lebanon, Armenia, Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Israel on Thursday has been later identified as a Russian ballistic missile test.
The new missile, which is reportedly capable of evading defense systems, debuted at Plesetsk launch pad in northern Russia, U.S.-based daily, The National Journal, reported Russian defense ministry officials as saying. The defense ministry announcement however did not name the missile but said it was fired from a mobile launcher.
Meanwhile, other reports quoting the ministry said the missile test originated in the Astrakhan region in central Russia.
In Iran, the test coincided with a military drill, thereby exacerbating fears.
Iranians, who rushed to call police stations to inquire on what is happening, thought it was psychological war staged against them by Western powers.
The Israeli daily, Ynet News, reported that the missile test also resulted in hundreds of calls to Israeli police stations.
“It most likely spun out of control and its remnants and the fuel was what people saw,” Israeli Astronomical Association Chairman Dr. Yigal Pat-El told Ynet News. “It reached a height of 200-300 kilometers and that’s why it was seen from so many locations.”
The Russian Defense Ministry said the mobile missile’s practice warhead successfully reached its target on the far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula.
“The new ICBM will strengthen the combat capability of the strategic missile forces thanks to its ability to penetrate prospective missile defense systems,” The National Journalist reported the ministry as saying.
Military officials said they also commissioned a new early warning radar, the Voronezh-M-type facility, in the Siberian city Irkutsk, which reportedly much more capable than older systems.
Moscow has long-expressed its concerns about a planned U.S. missile defense shield based in Europe and former Soviet countries that will circle Russia’s western flank.
Moscow has rejected Washington’s assurances that the shield is aimed to counter mainly Iranian missile launches. Instead, it said that it was developing missiles to counter any U.S. shield.
The test was conducted when visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbaev, signed documents in Astana on cooperation in different fields.
Iran touts its missile power
Coinciding with Russia’s missile test, Iran, a close Moscow ally, has touted its missile technology powers.
“Due to the blessing of the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran is now the fith or sixth greatest missile power in the world,” Ali Shamshiri, Assistant Dependence Minister, was reported as saying by Tehran Times on Friday.
He said that Iran’s progress in missile technology and aerospace technology has come as a surprise to the West.