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Iran missile system tested, rhetoric sharpened on eve of NATO summit

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Iran has frequently made exaggerated and unverifiable claims of military prowess and self-sufficiency. But as pressure from outside grows about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Iran’s economy increasingly feels the bite of sanctions, analysts say, the latest repeated claims of invincibility sound more political than potent.

Iran claims to have developed an air-defense system as effective as the Russian S-300, which it has sought to buy for years to protect its nuclear installations. Moscow canceled the deal in September after a fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions was placed on Iran.

Experts doubt that Iran has replicated the Russian S-300, which defends against aircraft and cruise and ballistic missiles, and has a range of 90 miles. The US and Israel, anxious that Iran in fact wants to build a bomb, have not ruled out military strikes; Iran says its atomic effort aims only to produce nuclear power.

“In terms of both of accuracy and distance, I would doubt very much whether Iran can produce anything nearing the ability of the S-300,” says Mark Fitzpatrick, an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, who edited a dossier on Iranian missile capabilities published last May.

“The S-300 is not just good because of its accuracy, but because of its reach,” says Mr. Fitzpatrick. “It’s not so easy to reverse-engineer a sophisticated system like this, particularly since Iran doesn’t have an S-300 to reverse-engineer.”

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