Iran inaugurates first unmanned bomber

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TEHRAN (AP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday inaugurated the country’s first domestically built unmanned bomber aircraft, calling it an “ambassador of death” to Iran’s enemies.

The 4-meter-long drone aircraft can carry up to four cruise missiles and will have a range of 620 miles, according to a state TV report — not far enough to reach archenemy Israel.

“The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said at the inauguration ceremony, which fell on the country’s national day for its defense industries.

The goal of the aircraft, named “Karrar,” or “striker,” is to “keep the enemy paralyzed in its bases,” he said, adding that the aircraft is for deterrence and defensive purposes.

The president championed the country’s military self-sufficiency program and said it will continue “until the enemies of humanity lose hope of ever attacking the Iranian nation.”

Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo and now produces its own tanks, armored personnel carries, missiles and even a fighter plane.

Iran frequently makes announcements about new advances in military technology that cannot be verified independently.

State TV later showed video footage of the plane taking off from a launching pad and reported that the craft traveled at speeds of 560 mph and could alternatively be armed with two 250-pound bombs or a 450-pound guided bomb.

Iran has been producing its own light, unmanned surveillance aircraft since the late 1980s.

The ceremony came a day after Iran began to fuel its first nuclear power reactor, with the help of Russia, amid international concerns over the possibility of a military dimension to its nuclear program.

Iran insists it is only interested in generating electricity.

Referring to Israel’s occasional threats against Iran’s nuclear facilities, Mr. Ahmadinejad called any attack unlikely, but he said if Israel did, the reaction would be overwhelming.

On Friday, Iran also test-fired a new liquid-fuel surface-to-surface missile, the Qiam-1, with advanced guidance systems.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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