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Israel Faxx 7/30/98

Iran Missile Eyes 'Nuclear' Israel

By IsraelWire

Iran's defense minister, addressing the Islamic republic's recent test firing of a medium-range missile, suggested Tehran's eyes were firmly on a hostile Israel rather than its immediate neighbors.

In a commentary Wednesday in the Farsi-language newspaper Iran, Rear Adm. Ali Shamkhani said the successful launch of the 800-mile-range Shehab-3 missile was integral to Iran's restructuring of its defense forces.

He denied speculation at home and abroad that the timing of the test, detected by U.S. spy satellites July 22 and confirmed by Iran three days later, was motivated by domestic political concerns.

Following the successful launch of the Shabab-3 mid-range missile, Israel is carefully monitoring the development of the Shabab-4 long-range missile, which will have a maximum range of 1,500 miles.

Israeli and US experts have already pointed out that the missiles will have the capability of carrying non-conventional warheads, a fact that has Israel and Western leaders worried. According to experts monitoring the Iranian progress, the long-range missile will be a reality within one year, with continued Russian assistance.

According to OC IDF Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Malka, the completion of a long-range missile by Iran would mark the first time in the State of Israel's 50-year history that the Iranians would be able to launch a direct assault.

Iran could deploy a long-range missile in two to five years, a senior US official said. Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk said the US would increase efforts to curb the transfer of technology Iran will need to deploy the long-range Shahab 4 missile.

The Shahab 3 missile, which is capable of reaching Israel as well as US soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia, is not yet ready for deployment. Iran claims the weapon will be used for defensive purposes only.

Indyk told reporters the Shahab 4 "will present an even greater threat" than Shahab 3, adding that is was "difficult to imagine" that the Iranians would give up their goal of developing weapons of mass destruction, especially as Pakistan and Iraq now possessed them.

He said that whoever wins the current internal struggle between Islamic fundamentalists and reformists in Iran, the weapons acquisition program would doubtless continue.

First of Four Readings Dissolves Knesset

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's parliament has given preliminary approval to a law which would dissolve parliament and require early elections. At first look, it appears to be a dramatic repudiation of the Israeli government's policies. The 120-member parliament voted 60-6 to dissolve itself.

But this was only the first of four votes which must be taken before the motion can become law, a process which can take several months. If and when the final vote ever comes, the bill is expected to fail.

On Wednesday, several members of the ruling coalition voted in favor of dissolving parliament, but most coalition members did not vote at all. Wednesday's vote was almost entirely symbolic -- a chance for dissatisfied members of parliament from both the right and the left to express their feelings in one vote. But in spite of the anger against it in parliament, this government has shown repeatedly -- including three times on Monday -- that it can survive votes of no-confidence.

The more pressing question is what happens now on the key factor in Wednesday's vote -- the deadlocked peace process. Some analysts say nothing will happen in talks with the Palestinians until the parliament returns from its summer recess. But others say the recess could be the window of opportunity Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been waiting for -- a chance to reach and implement an agreement without parliamentary involvement.

Still, that is more easily said than done. Talks are continuing, but the Palestinians say all the Israeli ideas presented so far contradict a US compromise proposal and therefore are not acceptable. Although Israeli officials say the two sides are not far apart, they have not been able to agree on several key issues, including the extent of Israel's next West Bank withdrawal.

Jordan and Israel Plan Joint Tourism Project

By IsraelWire

Jordan and Israel have agreed to build a joint vacation resort area between Aqaba and Eilat. The project is expected to cost $400 million and will be financed by the United States. Jordan's Tourism Ministry said the project will be named "Grand Oasis," and is scheduled for completion in 2002. The project will include amusement parks, sports clubs and two boats off the shores of Aqaba and Eilat, 3.6 miles apart.

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