- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized Turkey on Tuesday
for hosting a NATO early-warning radar system, saying it was aimed at
protecting Israel but warning it would "not stop the fall of the Zionist
regime.""They want to
make sure that our missiles do not reach the occupied territories, in
case they acted militarily against Iran one day," he added.
The Turkish and US governments said last month the
radar system would help spot missile threats coming from outside Europe,
including potentially from Iran. The system, provided by the United
States, is to become operational later this year.
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system is more aimed at defending the Zionist regime," Ahmadinejad said
in a live television interview late on Tuesday.
have told our Turkish friends that it was not right to give this
permission and that it was not in their benefit to do this... But such
radar system will not stop the fall of the Zionist regime."
Muslim Turkey, with NATO's second biggest military, has become a bigger
player in the Middle East. It is emboldened by its booming economy and
seeks stronger ties with Muslim countries in the Middle East, like Iran.
But Ankara, increasingly critical of Iranian ally Syria, has split with
Iran recently over Syrian President Bashar Assad's bloody crackdown on a
popular uprising within his country.
Turkey has said the radar system is not intended to protect against threats from any specific country.
Washington and its allies are at odds with Iran over its disputed
nuclear program, which they suspect is a front for developing atomic
bombs. Iran denies this, saying it is enriching uranium only for
electricity and other civilian purposes.
Israel, which Iran refuses to recognize, and the United States have not
ruled out military strikes on Iran if diplomatic means fail to stop it
obtaining nuclear weapons.
Iranian officials previously have announced that the country's
domestically produced missiles can reach Israel and US bases in the
Gulf. Tehran says its response to any military attack will be "painful".
Russia unilaterally suspended the delivery of S-300 missiles to Iran
after the United States and Israel expressed concern that the Islamic
Republic could use the anti-aircraft system to shield its nuclear
Opposition to Israel is a fundamental principle in Shi'ite Muslim Iran and Ahmadinejad often rails against the Jewish state.