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Iran test-fires new version of Fateh missile

By the CNN Wire Staff
An undated image released by Iran's Defense Ministry on Aug. 25, 2010 allegedly shows the test-firing of the Fateh 110 missile.
An undated image released by Iran's Defense Ministry on Aug. 25, 2010 allegedly shows the test-firing of the Fateh 110 missile.
  • The new version of the Fateh missile has a longer range, Iranian news outlets say
  • Defense minister denies missile is response to Kuwait's Patriot missile purchase
  • Iran began fueling first nuclear energy plant at weekend, raising fears in West

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Iran has successfully test-fired a new version of its Fateh missile, which has a longer range than previous models, Iranian news agencies reported Wednesday.

The Fateh-110 was designed by Iranian scientists and is also more accurate than older versions, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's defense minister, told state-run Press TV and the semi-official Fars news agency.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the Fateh-110 is a short- or medium-range missile. Press TV reported it is 9 meters (29.5 feet) long and weighs 3,500 kilograms (7,716 pounds).

Vahidi claimed that the production of the missile was "another victory in the field of defense and technology, and was another example of busting the sanctions and getting rid of them," Fars quoted him as saying.

He also denied that Iran's implementation of the Fateh missile was linked to the recent purchase of U.S.-made Patriot missiles by Kuwait, according to Fars.

Video: Iran nuclear plant fueling
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"Kuwait is not a threat to us because we have friendly relations with Kuwait ... however, there was no need to have that system (Patriot) in Kuwait," the minister said.

The test-firing of the missile came days after Iran unveiled the first long-range military drone manufactured in the country, state media reported.

On Saturday Iran also began fueling its first nuclear energy plant in the southern city of Bushehr, according to the nation's state media.

Press TV said the effort would help the country create nuclear-generated electricity.

But some Western nations have questioned whether the nuclear fuel will be used solely for electricity, suggesting that Iran would eventually try to enrich uranium on its own, providing material for nuclear weapons.

The United States has questioned Iran's motives in continuing to enrich uranium within its borders.

The five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany offered Iran a deal last October: send the low-level uranium out of the country to be enriched elsewhere in exchange for fuel for its reactor.

Tehran did not accept and instead made a counteroffer: make the swap a simultaneous one and carry it out on Iranian soil.

The U.S. State Department called the Iranian proposal a stalling tactic and said world powers would not "front" the fuel to Iran. A stalemate ensued.

The United States is now seeking support for expanded sanctions, saying Iran is unlikely to negotiate unless sanctions are in place.

CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.