Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tehran Sends Another Signal

Amid its current push for direct talks with Washington, the Ahmadinejad government took time out to send another signal Tuesday night, conducting a test launch of a Shahab-3 medium-range missile. The launch was conducted just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert began a summit with President Bush in Washington.

Preparations for the launch were detected in advance, and the test came as no surprise. It's unclear if the missile launched on Tuesday was an extended-range version of the Shahab-3, which would allow Iran to strike targets beyond Israel. Tehran has been working on an extended range version of the missile for some time, with mixed results.

Iran has been offering feelers about a dialogue with the U.S., and the missile test was apparently intended (in part) to highlight the potential dangers of ignoring or opposing Tehran. But from my perspective, the Shahab-3 launch sends other signals, namely that Iran is still intent on developing weapons of mass destruction (and the platforms to deliver them), and that Ahmadinejad isn't serious about negotiating with the U.S.