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

The Islamic Republic began a military self-sufficiency programme in 1992, under which it produces a large range of weapons, including tanks, medium range missiles, jet fighters and torpedoes.

Missile development

Vahidi last month opened two other missile production plants, one making ground-to-air missiles dubbed Qaem and the other turning out surface-to-surface missiles named Toofan 5.

Iran's missile and space programmes have sparked mounting alarm in the West amid fears that a command of advanced ballistics technologies combined with the nuclear know-how acquired from its declared civilian programme may enable it to produce an atomic weapon.

Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons but has regularly boasted of having missiles that can target the only nuclear power in the Middle East - Israel.

In December it tested the Sejil 2 missile, describing it as a faster version of a medium-range missile that could allow it to strike Israel.