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WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The United States has expressed concern that rogue states are developing long-range missiles under the guise of satellite-launch programs.

U.S. officials said such countries as Iran, North Korea and Pakistan are developing long-range missiles while they insist that the rockets will be used to boost satellites into space. Iran has claimed that its Shihab-4 program is a booster vehicle and North Korea has made the same claim of its Taepo Dong-1.

"Proliferators are developing long-range ballistic missiles, often under the guise of peaceful space-launch programs," a State Department report said.

The report said the threat of intermediate- and long-range missiles has increased. The report by the Bureau of Arms Control said 27 countries either possess or are working to develop ballistic missiles.

"Iran has made statements that it plans to develop longer-range systems known as the Shihab 4 and Shihab 5," the report said.

The report said that North Korea tried to demonstrate the three-stage Taepo Dong-1 missile to deliver a small payload to the United States. Pyongyang insisted that it launched an unsuccessful attempt to place a satellite into orbit.

The pretext of a satellite launch program has garnered international aid for Iran's Shihab-4 and Shihab-5 programs. China is regarded as a significant contributor to these programs.

The result, the report said, is that Washington cannot be certain if and when Iran will succeed in developing long-range missiles.

"Foreign assistance continues to have demonstrable effects on missile advances around the world, creating further unpredictability in the development of the ballistic missile threat," the report said.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 14, 2001

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