By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
Published: December 16, 2009
CAIRO — Iran announced Wednesday that it had test-fired an improved version of its most advanced missile capable of reaching Israel and parts of Europe, in a move that appeared aimed to discourage a military attack on its nuclear sites and to defy Western pressure over its nuclear program.
The announcement provoked immediate rebukes from the White House and leaders in Europe, and appeared likely to intensify pressure from the United States and other Western powers to impose tougher economic sanctions on Iran.
A White House spokesman told Reuters that the test undermined Iran’s claims that its nuclear program is peaceful, and said it would “increase the seriousness and resolve of the international community to hold Iran accountable” for its provocations.
The British prime minister, Gordon Brown, said the missile test “does make the case for us moving further on sanctions,” according to the Associated Press.
Iranian television gave a brief report on Wednesday of a successful test of the two-stage, solid-fuel missile called a Sejil-2. Iran’s defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi, said the new missile is faster, more accurate and harder to shoot down than earlier versions and that it increases “the country’s technical and tactical powers,” according to Iran’s official news agency.