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updated: 7/2/2011 2:29 PM

Iran: Missile progress shows futility of sanctions

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Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's defense minister claimed Saturday that the country's missile progress shows that U.N. sanctions are ineffective and won't stop Tehran's defense programs.

The statement by Gen. Ahmad Vahidi comes during 10 days of war games in Iran's latest show of military might and displays what Tehran claims is growing self-sufficiency in military and other technologies.

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Vahidi said Iran's missile program is "indigenous" and has no reliance on foreign countries to meet its defense requirements. Iran is under four sets of U.N. sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or atomic weapons.

Last week, Iran unveiled underground missile silos for the first time, making Iran's arsenal less vulnerable to any possible attack.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the country's most powerful military force, said the Islamic Republic has the ability to produce missiles with a greater range than those currently in its arsenal, but doesn't need to do so.

The upgraded version of Iran's Shahab-3 and Sajjil-2 missiles already can travel up to 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) -- putting Israel, U.S. bases in the Gulf region and parts Europe within reach.

"The war games ... show Iran's great capability in designing, producing and using various kinds of missiles based on domestic knowledge. This showed that the sanctions imposed had no effect on Iran's missile program," Vahidi said in comments posted on sepahnews.com, the Guard's official website.

Iran has periodically boasted of what it calls homegrown advances in technological sectors such as its satellite program and other scientific work.

The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity and producing isotopes to treat medical patients.

In a separate statement, Iran's telecommunications minister, Reza Taqipour, said Iran is taking technical measures to combat the so-called "Internet in a suitcase," a program reportedly developed by the U.S. to bring online access to dissidents around the world.

Taqipour was quoted by state media as saying that the program is part of a "cultural invasion" by Iran's enemies aimed at promoting dissent and undermining Iran's ruling system. He gave no other details.

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