Iran Cops To Missile Test

Iran confirmed Saturday it had successfully tested a medium-range missile, a weapon capable of reaching Israel, its traditional enemy Iraq, as well as thousands of U.S. troops stationed in Saudi Arabia.

Iran state television quoted Defense Minister Rear Adm. Ali Shamkhani as saying that the missile with a range of 800 miles was tested on Wednesday by Iranian experts "without any foreign support." This report runs contrary to U.S. intelligence reports which say the missile is of North Korean origin.

Iran said it was justified in the test, citing "changes that have taken place close at hand and far away," and noting that for Iran to establish a lasting peace, some investment in "defense facilities" was necessary.

CBS News Correspondent David Martin reports that the missile flew more than 600 miles before detonating. The missile, when fully operational, would triple the range of the Iranian arsenal.

"It's just a test, but if they, obviously if they were to develop a medium range missile it could change the regional stability dynamics in the Middle East," said President Clinton.

"This would allow them to strike many countries in the Middle East, including Israel, parts of Turkey and parts of Russia as well," said Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon.

In addition, U.S. troops based in Saudi Arabia could be hit, but the real concern, says nuclear expert Gary Milholin, is what this missile says about Iran's intentions.

"This missile is very strong evidence of Iran's determination to get the bomb," he said. "No one has ever built a missile that goes this far and is this inaccurate except to carry a nuclear warhead."

Just last week a blue ribbon panel warned that so little is known about Iran's nuclear weapons program, the U.S. is unlikely to know whether the Islamic republic has the bomb until after the fact.

Reported by David Martin
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