Iran defense minister says NATO missiles harm Turkey security


The installation of Patriot anti-missile batteries sent by NATO members to bolster Turkey’s defenses against a possible missile attack from Syria will only harm Turkey’s security, Iran’s defense minister was quoted as saying on Saturday.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen used the Scud launches to justify NATO’s decision to dispatch Patriot anti-missile systems to NATO ally Turkey - a deployment criticized by Syria, Iran and Russia.

Tehran opposes the installation of NATO missiles as Western interference in the region and has said it could lead to a “world war.”

“The installation of Patriot missiles in Turkey plays no role in establishing Turkey’s security and this harms the country of Turkey,” Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Saturday, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).

“The West has always pursued its viewpoints and interests and we disagree with the presence of Western countries in regional interactions,” he added.

Vahidi also denied that Iran is training Syrian forces to battle the rebels, ISNA reported. Iran considers itself, Syria’s rulers and the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah as part of an “axis of resistance” against U.S. and Israeli power in the Middle East, but has denied accusations that it is helping Assad militarily.

“Syria has no need for the training of its forces by the Islamic Republic of Iran, because Syria has a powerful military which has prepared itself for involvement with the Zionist regime (Israel),” Vahidi said.

A NATO told Reuters earlier that there had been multiple launches of Scud-type missiles inside Syria on Thursday morning.

“The fact that such missiles are used in Syria emphasizes the need for effective defense protection of our ally Turkey,” Rasmussen told reporters after talks at NATO headquarters with Djibouti Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita.

“The recent launch of missiles has not hit Turkish territory but of course there is a potential threat and this is exactly the reason why NATO allies decided to deploy Patriot missiles in Turkey, for a defensive purpose only,” he said.