Iran Pledges to Help Syria 'Confront Threats'

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:16 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Iran and Syria announced on Wednesday that they were forming a united front to confront threats. Shortly after that announcement, Iranian television reported that a missile had been fired near its nuclear power plant in Bushehr.

"A powerful explosion was heard this morning on the outskirts of Dailam in the Bushehr province. Witnesses said that the missile was fired from an unknown plane 20 kilometers [12 miles] from the city," Iran's Arabic language Al-Alam said.

Later it was reported that a fuel tank might have fallen accidentally from an Iranian plane.

The report comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over the development of Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. wants Iran to be referred to the United Nations Security Council for secretly developing nuclear weapons. Such a referral could lead to sanctions against Iran.

Although Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, the United States is among the skeptics.

Israeli officials have said that Iran may be capable of enriching uranium (a key component for nuclear weapons) within six months. Israel says it would consider the enrichment of uranium a point of no return; Israel has indicated it will not allow Iran to get to that point, in other words.

Israel destroyed Iraq's French-built Osirak nuclear reactor in an air strike in 1981 just before it would have become radioactive. Iran has warned Israel against taking such action against its reactors.

In another development, Iran promised to stand by Syria on Wednesday. "We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats," Iranian Vice-President Mohammed Reza Aref was quoted as saying following a meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari.

Al-Otari arrived in Tehran for a state visit on Tuesday. Syria has come under strong criticism for its presence in Lebanon and its support for terror groups. The long-simmering issue boiled over on Monday, when former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a bomb blast that many are blaming -- at least indirectly -- on Syria.

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