Israel's missile test follows confirmation from a senior Israeli defence official that the US has agreed to connect the Jewish state to its ballistic missile early warning system "to protect" the regime against any missile attack.

"Israel asked the US to connect to its ballistic missile early warning system as part of its efforts to defend itself from missile attacks. The US has agreed to the request," he said.

The missile was launched from an Israeli air force fighter aircraft, simulating the flight of an advanced Shahab-3 ballistic missile used by Iran.

Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minister, said: "We have to prepare, and if there's a need, to take action, not just to talk idly."

Call for support

Tzipi Livni, Israeli's foreign minister, told delegates on Monday that Israel and Arab states are mired in the same struggle with extremists who "refuse to recognise our democratic rights" at a democracy and trade conference in Qatar.

"When I say "our", I mean the rights of Israelis, moderate Palestinians, moderate Arabs and pragmatic Muslim regimes alike."

In what was Livni's first visit to Qatar, an energy-rich Gulf state that has no diplomatic ties with Israel, she said Iran worked with "radical" Shia elements such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, and supported Hamas, a "terrorist organisation" controlling Gaza "by weapons, training and money".

Ashtiani said: "We are not worried by Israeli manoeuvres, but if Israel takes such action against the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will eliminate it from the global arena.

"As the president [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] has said, we have a great motivation to defend the frontiers of our country," he added.

His comments come a week after Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel's national infrastructure minister, warned that any Iranian attack against Israel "would lead to the destruction of the Iranian nation".

"Turning point"

Israel last week held a five-day exercise codenamed "Turning Point" simulating air and missile attacks on cities, including by non-conventional weapons, the biggest drill of its kind ever carried out.

The exercise sparked alarm in Israel's northern neighbour, Lebanon, home to the Shia group Hezbollah.

Israel, the Middle East's sole, if undeclared, atomic arms power, accuses Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon and, along with its chief ally the US, has never explicitly ruled out a military attack against the Islamic republic.

But Iran, which does not recognise Israel, insists that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and aimed solely at generating energy for a growing population.