This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
This week, Iran
test-fired a new missile. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the launch to
a crowd in Semnan province, his birthplace and a base for missile launches.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD (translator): "The
Sejil-2 missile, which has very advanced technology, was launched from Semnan
and it landed precisely on the target."
Officials say the solid-fuel rocket could
reach Israel, southeastern Europe and American bases in the Middle East.
American Defense Secretary Robert
Gates says the Iranian missile will be able to travel up to two thousand five
hundred kilometers. But because of engine problems, he says, the range right
now is probably closer to two thousand kilometers.
test came two days after Benjamin Netanyahu, the new Israeli prime minister, visited
President Obama. It was their first meeting as leaders. Next week, the
Palestinian and Egyptian presidents visit the White House.
President Obama and Prime
Minister Netanyahu both spoke of the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
BARACK OBAMA: "I firmly
believe it is in Iran's interest not to develop nuclear weapons, because it
would trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and be profoundly destabilizing
in all sorts of ways."
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: "If Iran
were to acquire nuclear weapons, it could give a nuclear umbrella to
terrorists, or worse it could actually give terrorists nuclear weapons, and
that would put us all in grave peril."
Iran says its nuclear program is
for energy. But the latest test only added to concerns about missiles that could
one day carry nuclear weapons. Israel points out that President Ahmadinejad has
said the Jewish State should be "wiped off the map."
Obama still has to decide the future of a Bush administration plan to put a
missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia objects. But the
United States says the system would protect Europe from a possible attack by Iran.
Obama says he is trying to reach out to the Iranians with diplomacy. But he
says there must be a "clear timetable" for talks about protecting
their security without threatening other people's security.
should be some sense by the end of the year, he says, whether or not serious
progress is being made.
BARACK OBAMA: "We are not
going to have talks forever. We are not going to create a situation in which
talks become an excuse for inaction while Iran proceeds with developing a
nuclear and deploying a nuclear weapon."
presidential election is June twelfth. President Ahmadinejad is seeking a
second term. He will face three other candidates chosen this week from more
than four hundred fifty who entered the race.
of those he will face is Mir Hossein Mousavi. The former prime minister along
with former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi are both seen as reformist. Iran's
Guardian Council also approved the candidacy of President Ahmadinejad and Mohsen
Rezai, former head of the Revolutionary Guards. Both men are conservative.
The president's opponents have
criticized his handling of the economy -- inflation is high. But he has won
praise at home for his support for developing satellite and rocket technology. Iran
launched its first satellite into orbit in February -- the thirtieth
anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
And that's IN THE
NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.
Correction: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak canceled a planned visit to Washington, after the death of his 12-year-old grandson.