TEHRAN, Iran – Iran said for the first time Wednesday it has fully developed solid-fuel technology in producing missiles, a major breakthrough that increases the accuracy of missiles hitting targets.
Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani (search) told The Associated Press that Iran has made an "important step forward" in developing the technology, which provides the Islamic Republic with the ability to fire solid-fuel ballistic missiles like the Shahab-3 (search).
The Shahab-3, with a range of 810 miles to more than 1,200 miles, is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching Israel and U.S. forces in the Middle East.
"We have fully achieved proficiency in solid-fuel technology in producing missiles," said Shamkhani in Iran's first declaration that it has locally developed full access to solid fuel missile technology.
Such technology enables the production of solid fuel, which makes missiles more durable and dramatically increases their accuracy in reaching targets. Missiles using liquid fuel are short-lived.
"It's an important step forward, an important achievement. It's a locally developed achievement," said Shamkhani.
Iran said last month it has successfully tested a solid-fuel motor for its medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile. The motor was one of two engines developed for the Shahab-3.
The minister said no flight test of Shahab-3 missile has been carried out using solid fuel. However, he did say that Iran has used solid fuel with its Fateh-110 short-range missile sometime ago, but it was unclear if the fuel was made in Iran or came from outside.
The Shahab-3 ballistic missile is known as a single-stage device and military experts said the development of a second motor demonstrates a significant improvement in Iran's missile program.
The Fateh-110 is a solid propellant surface-to-surface guided missile with a reported range of about 105 miles and is classified among Iran's most efficient missiles.
Last November, Shamkhani said Iran was able to mass produce the Shahab-3 missile. The missile — whose name "Shahab" means "shooting star" in Farsi — was last tested successfully in 2002, and iran's elite Revolutionary Guards were equipped with it in July 2003.
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.