Monday, June 28, 2010
Iran Again Criticizes U.S. Policy On Its Missiles
Iran on June 19 accused the United States of "deception" and insisted its missiles are for self-defense only, after a top U.S. official charged that Iran could rain missiles down on Europe.
"The Islamic Republic's missile capability has been designed and implemented to defend against any military aggression and it does not threaten any nation," Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in a statement carried by state media.
He was reacting to remarks by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on June 17 that U.S. intelligence has shown that Iran could attack Europe with "scores or hundreds" of missiles, prompting major changes to U.S. missile defenses.
Washington seeks to "expand its domination over Europe, and to find an excuse not to dismantle its nuclear weapons stationed in the region, while putting the pressure on Russia and surrounding it," Vahidi said.
"The U.S. seeks to create regional discord and impair [Moscow's] regional ties to humiliate Russia and weaken its relations with neighboring countries," he added, urging Russia not to fall for "U.S. deception and psychological war."
President Obama in September cited a mounting danger from Iran's arsenal of short- and medium-range missiles when he announced an overhaul of American missile defense plans.
The new program uses sea- and land-based interceptors to protect NATO allies in the region, instead of mainly larger weapons designed to counter long-range missiles.
Gates said the United States believed "that if Iran were actually to launch a missile attack on Europe ... it would more likely be a salvo kind of attack, where you would be dealing potentially with scores or even hundreds of missiles."
Iran is under mounting international pressure over its controversial nuclear program of uranium enrichment, which the West fears masks a covert weapons drive.
Iran vehemently denies the charge, but it has been flexing its military muscle mainly in the strategic Gulf region by staging regular war games and showcasing an array of Iranian-manufactured missiles.
The United States and Israel have not ruled out a military strike to curb Iran's atomic drive. Iran has vowed to deliver a crushing response if it comes under attack.
Iran has developed more than a dozen short- and medium-range (up to 1,240 miles) missiles and continues to expand its ballistic missile capability, even launching satellite carriers into space despite U.N. Sanctions.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies has estimated that Tehran will have the capability to fire missiles at western Europe by 2014, but that it will need at least a decade to be able to target the United States.
Despite close economic and energy ties with Iran, Russia supported the latest round of sanctions against Iran on June 9 and froze a deal to sell S-300 anti-missile systems to Tehran.
The deal has been in the pipeline for years and was strongly opposed by Israel and the United States.