Iran's defense minister on Saturday said the Islamic republic had successfully test-fired a medium-range missile, capable of striking a target about 800 miles away.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has successfully tested a missile with a range of about 1300 km (800 miles) through the efforts of the experts from its defense industries and without any help from any foreign country," state television quoted the defense minister, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, as saying."The defense policy of the Islamic republic is based on promoting its deterrent capability. Considering the developments in the immediate region and beyond, the will of the Islamic republic is to preserve peace," Shamkhani said.

Earlier last week, the United States said its spy satellites had detected what it said was the test launch on July 22 of a Shehab-3 missile of North Korean design with sufficient range to strike Israel, Saudi Arabia, much of Turkey and portions of Russia.

President Clinton said such a weapon could change the "stability dynamics" in the Middle East.

Initital word of the test drew sharp reactions from Israel, which vowed to do whatever it took to defend itself. Turkey said it was keeping a close eye on developments.

However, defense analysts say any such test, or a future move to make the weapon fully operational, was largely designed to deter any fresh threat from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iran and Iraq fought a devastating war from 1980-1988.

Shamkhani congratulated Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the test and expressed hope that the country could preserve its role of sustaining peace in the region, the television said.

The report was accompanied by an artist's sketch of a missile blasting off from a truck-mounted mobile platform and later by footage of a recent military parade featuring similar launchers.

The New York Times on Friday quoted U.S. officials as saying the missile apparently blew up in the later stages of flight.