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Iran’s state media reported that Tehran test-fired a Sajjil-2 missile from Semnan on May 20. The missile has a surface-to-air range of 1,240 miles (2,000 km)—capable of striking Israel. Western governments, and Middle Eastern nations near Iran, may consider the test a confrontational message.
Analysts said the launch was most likely intended for Iran’s citizens, in light of the June 12 national elections, rather than a message to the United States, which has criticized Iran’s past missile launches as a way of stoking instability in the Middle East (USA Today).
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a May 18 meeting in Washington, D.C., voiced his concerns to U.S. President Barack Obama to increase pressure on Iran from advancing its nuclear ambitions.
The New York Times reported that President Obama “expected to know by the end of the year whether Iran was making ‘a good-faith effort to resolve differences’ in talks aimed at ending its nuclear program, signaling to Israel as well as Iran that his willingness to engage in diplomacy over the issue has its limits.”
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel’s elimination. The Israeli government, in turn, has not ruled out a military strike to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. The Jewish state is skeptical of U.S. overtures to Iran, which have received a mixed response from Mr. Ahmadinejad (USA Today).
The test-fire comes before President Ahmadinejad’s June 12 run for re-election, in which he will compete against three other government-approved candidates.