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Middle East
Iran criticises US missile move
Tehran says expansion of missile system will increase US military presence in Gulf.
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2010 13:31 GMT

Iran maintains its weapons do not pose any threats to neighbouring countries [EPA]

Iran has criticised a US move to expand its missile defence systems in the Gulf, calling it a "political ploy" that will increase Washington's military presence in the region.

Ali Larijani, the parliament speaker, said on Tuesday that upgrading the missile defence systems in the Persian Gulf would only create more trouble for US forces.

"Regional countries should know that this puppet show by the US, while claiming to create security in the region is nothing except a new political ploy to increase the [American] military presence at the expense of others," Larijani said during a parliament session.

Washington's move appears geared towards countering the Islamic Republic's growing missile threat, but Tehran says it has good relations with neighbouring states.

Warning

Larijani warned Gulf states against permitting US military operations against Tehran on their territories.

He assured them that Tehran "does not want to inflict any harm on the GCC [Gulf Co-operation Council] states".

"It is interesting that they [the Americans] justify their move by saying the reason is the regional countries' concerns about Iran.

"It is strange that the American officials do not notice that the problem in the region is your [US] presence and the more you deploy artillery [in this region], the more the host countries will be concerned," he told parliament.

Ramin Mehmanparast, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, said: "Relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the other countries in the region are very good and friendly.

"An interactive attitude in the region is the only suitable approach towards making peace and stability."

'Opening shot'

Professor Anoush Ehteshami, an expert on Iran and the Gulf at Durham University in Britain, said: "Iranians will interpret this as an opening shot in the intensification of US military agenda.

"Tehran will see this as America putting indirect pressure on Iran by extending the security umbrella over Iran's neighbours." 
 
Tehran's reaction follows reports that the Obama administration has quietly increased the capability of land-based Patriot defence missiles in several Gulf Arab nations.

One US military official said last week the navy was stepping up the presence of ships capable of knocking out hostile missiles in flight.

The defences are being beefed up ahead of possible new sanctions against Tehran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which the West fears masks Iranian ambitions to produce a nuclear weapon.

Source:
Agencies
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