TEHRAN, Iran – Iran (search) equipped its elite revolutionary guards Sunday with a locally made ballistic missile — the Shahab-3 (search) — capable of reaching Israel and U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
The missile was inaugurated during a military parade before Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (search), who is in charge of the country's armed forces, state-run Tehran television reported.
"Today, the Iranian nation and armed forces ... is prepared to stand up to the enemy with a firm resolve anywhere," Khamenei was quoted as saying.
The missile's inauguration comes as the United States is accusing Iran of working to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the claims, saying its nuclear program is to produce electricity not weapons.
The Shahab-3 has a range of about 810 miles, making it able to reach Israel and U.S. troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported this month that the missile's recent testing was its most successful of seven or eight launches during the past five years.
The last time Iran declared a test of the missile was in May 2002 when Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said the country conducted a test to "enhance the power and accuracy of (the) Shahab-3 missile."
The missile technology is allegedly based on North Korea's No Dong surface-to-surface missile, but Iran says it is entirely locally made. "Shahab" means shooting star in Farsi.
U.S. intelligence officials have said Iran can probably fire several Shahab-3's in an emergency, but that it has not yet developed a completely reliable missile.
Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter plane.