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Iran denies plans to develop US-hitting missiles

Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi denied on Wednesday the Islamic republic is planning to develop ballistic missiles capable of striking arch-foe the United States, as alleged by Washington.

world Updated: Apr 21, 2010 17:15 IST

Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi denied on Wednesday the Islamic republic is planning to develop ballistic missiles capable of striking arch-foe the United States, as alleged by Washington.

"We have no such plans," Vahidi told the official IRNA news agency, describing the allegations as "part of the enemy's psychological warfare."

Vahidi was reacting to Tuesday comments by a senior US official James Miller, principal deputy undersecretary of defence for policy, who told a senate hearing Iran could by 2015 develop missiles that could strike the US.

Miller added that his assessment assumed "foreign assistance" to enable Iran to improve its missile technology.

A report last year from the US Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Centre had postulated that Iran could build an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit US soil by 2015-2018, if it received outside help.

Analysts say Iran's Safir (Ambassador) space launch vehicle, which Tehran put into orbit in February 2009, has the potential to be converted into a long-range missile.

Vahidi, however, said Wednesday Iran was producing an air defence system equipped with aerial radar, and a domestically produced missile having a range of 40 kilometres (25 miles) and an altitude of 20 kilometres.

Washington closely follows Iran's missile programme and has cited threats from Tehran and North Korea as the main impetus for building missile defence systems for the United States and its allies.

The US administration also accuses Tehran of a clandestine effort to build nuclear weapons. Iran vehemently denies this.