Teheran: Iran said Monday it had achieved a historic milestone with the launch of research rocket Safir-1 (The Emissary), which made it to space orbit on Monday, 4 February 2008.
The Safir-1 is believed to be an improved Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which has a range of about 1500 km (930 miles).
Defence analysts said that the test was very likely a response to the Israeli testing of the long-range Jericho-3 ballistic missile on 17 January. The Jericho-3 missile is said to have a range of about 4,000km.
The test firing took place from the Israeli Palmachim air base, and Israeli defence sources claimed soon thereafter that Israel could now reach ''every point of the world.''
Meanwhile, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was present for the test on Monday and apparently gave the launch orders himself. Reports said that the Safir1 was fired from a missile base in the Semnan desert, southeast of Tehran.
Before the test firing, Ahmadinejad also inaugurated Iran's first space research centre. Here he announced that the Omid (Hope) satellite would be placed in orbit ''in the near future.''
The testing has led to new speculation that the Iranians may follow up with the launch of a military satellite.
Meanwhile, the US issued another denunciatrion of the test saying it was "unfortunate" and that it would further isolate the Islamic republic from the international community.
These denunications have become a routine affair by now and are entirely mutual between the US, Israel and Iran. The three countries have been involved in a stand off over Iran's nuclear programme for a long time and tit-for-tat gestures of this nature serve to keep the region in a state of perpetual boil.