Iran’s missile tests prove US shield not needed, says Russia (Lead)July 11th, 2008 - 9:47 pm ICT by IANS
Moscow, July 11 (RIA Novosti) Russia Friday said the ongoing missile tests by Iran has proved that the country did not have the capability to attack Europe and thus, there was no need to build a missile shield in the region. The tests in Iran “proved that the country only has missiles with a range of 2,000 km”, much less than the range needed to reach Europe, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said following talks with his Jordanian counterpart Salaheddin Al-Bashir.
“This proves what we said before, that the idea of deploying the US missile shield in Europe with its parameters is not needed to monitor and respond to missiles of this range,” Lavrov said.
Iran test-fired a series of long and medium-range missiles in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz this week. It is believed that the Shahab-3 missile, Iran launched Wednesday, could potentially reach Israel, Pakistan, and US bases in the Middle East.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the tests proved the need to deploy interceptor missiles in Poland and a linked tracking radar in the Czech Republic, plans that have infuriated Russia, which views them as a national security threat.
Dismissing Rice’s comments, Lavrov said: “We are certain that talk of a missile threat emanating from Iran is an invented motive for deploying a missile shield in Europe.”
The missile tests by Iran came after the Israeli Air Force conducted military exercises in early June, which were seen as a rehearsal for an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Iran is suspected by the West, especially the US, of seeking to produce nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian programme. But Tehran insists that it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.
Lavrov said the problem required a joint solution, rather than unilateral steps such as missile tests, threats and new bases. He also said Moscow was looking ahead to new talks with Iran, scheduled for later this month.
“We advocate the continuation and build-up of diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear dossier. We expect that discussions on the proposals made to Iran last month will help create appropriate conditions for that.”
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator will meet with European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana July 19 to discuss a set of incentives designed to persuade the country to halt uranium enrichment, a process needed in both electricity and weapons production.