Vahidi 311 R.
(photo credit: Morteza Nikoubazl / Reuters)
TEHRAN - Iran's defense minister on Tuesday criticized the pending deployment of a NATO early-warning radar system in Turkey, saying Tehran would not tolerate any aggression against its national interests.
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The Turkish and US governments said on Friday the radar system will 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.
"The West claims the radar system (in Turkey) is to confront Iranian missiles but they should be aware that we will not tolerate any aggression against our national interests," Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted by state TV as saying.
Muslim Turkey, with NATO's second biggest military, has become a bigger player in the Middle East emboldened by its booming economy and a more Islamic identity, seeking stronger ties with Muslim countries in the Middle East, like Iran.
But Turkey, increasingly critical of Iranian ally Syria, has split with Iran recently over Syrian President Bashar Assad's bloody crackdown on popular unrest in his country.
Vahidi warned Turkey over the radar system, which Ankara says is not against any specific country. "We regard the presence of America and the West as a troublesome and harmful presence for the Islamic countries," Vahidi said.
Turkey has also sought stronger ties with Russia, which has said a NATO
missile defense system could threaten its security if it develops the
capability to down Russian nuclear missiles.
However, Russia's NATO envoy said a radar system in Turkey would not threaten Russian security.
The United States and its allies are at odds with Iran over its nuclear
program, saying Tehran is trying covertly to develop atomic bombs. Iran
denies this, saying it is enriching uranium only for electricity or
other civilian purposes.
Iranian officials have previously announced that the country's
domestically-produced missiles can reach Israel and US bases in the
Gulf. Iran says its response to any military attack will be "painful."
Moscow 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