Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Breaking: Iran says it has successfully tested Sajjil-2 medium-range missile

From the Associated Press:
Iran says it has successfully tested an upgraded version of its longest-range solid-fuel missile.

State TV reported the news Wednesday without providing details on the test of the Sajjil-2 missile.

The Sajjil is a solid fuel, high-speed missile with a range of about 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers), placing Iran's sworn enemy Israel well within range and reaching as far away as southeastern Europe with greater precision than earlier models.

Iran has intensified its missile development program in recent years, causing concern in the United States and its allies at a time when they accuse Tehran of seeking to build a nuclear weapon. Iran denies the charge and says its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity.
This is the second test of the Sajjil-2 missile by Iran.  The first occurred back in May just before the presidential election in that country that sparked nationwide protests against Ahmadinejad's regime.  The Sajjil-2 is Iran's most advanced two-stage, surface-to-surface solid fuel medium range missile with a range of up to 1200 miles or 2000 kilometers, placing Iran's sworn enemy, Israel, well within range of a strike.

Yesterday the House passed a bill to sanction companies that sell refined petroleum to Iran by a vote of 412-12.  It was expected that the Senate would not consider its version of a sanctions bill until after the first of the year.  JTA reports:
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, needs time to consider the bill, his spokesman, Frederick Jones, told JTA. Jones strongly refuted rumors that Kerry would keep the legislation from reaching the floor, although that is in his power as a committee chairman.

"We're working with the administration to reach a solution that achieves the minimum all parties" want, Jones said. "There's no hold, it's not dead, it's just they're anticipating the legislative process."

That means it's extremely unlikely the Senate will rush the legislation before year's end, as had been reported earlier, especially considering other pressing matters.

The go-slow approach takes some of the wind out of the version of the bill, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, that passed Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives version. Both versions target Iran's import of refined petroleum; the deleterious state of Iran's refining capabilities means it imports up to 40 percent of its refined oil, despite being a major oil producer.

It has become increasingly clear in recent days that the Obama administration wants to slow down the prospect of unilateral sanctions while it attempts to mass international support for multilateral measures aimed at forcing Iran to make its nuclear workings transparent.
While the White House is urging a go-slow approach, the Iranian government is pressing full speed ahead with its missile development and nuclear enrichment activities.  It will be interesting to see if the Senate is sufficiently moved by this latest test launch to speed things up a bit.

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