MOSCOW // Iran's recent missile tests showed the limited range of Tehran's arsenal and proved a planned US missile defence shield in Europe is unnecessary, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said today. "The tests in Iran confirm that Iran has missiles with a range of up to 2,000 kilometres and confirm... that a missile defence shield with these parameters is not needed to monitor or react to such threats," Mr Lavrov said.
"We believe that any issue related to Iran should be resolved through negotiation, through political-diplomatic means... and not through threats," the foreign minister told reporters in Moscow after talks with his Jordanian counterpart. The Russian minister said the US could push ahead with its plans to set up a new missile defence system in Europe. "But these will be unilateral steps at a time when what is needed is collective measures, collective agreements," Mr Lavrov said.
His comments came three days after the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed an agreement in Prague formally permitting the US to set up a high-powered radar in the Czech Republic as part of the new missile shield. President Dmitry Medvedev said immediately afterwards that Russia was "most distressed" by the US moves, which Moscow says in their current form pose a direct threat to Russian national security.
Moscow said this week it had no choice but to respond to the US missile defence moves with "concrete" military steps of its own, heightening concern about a renewed Washington-Moscow arms race. The US rejects Russia's fears about the system, saying it is meant to defend against missile threats from "rogue" states such as Iran and North Korea. Mr Lavrov's comments came after Iran carried out a series of missile tests this week, ignoring global concern over Tehran's nuclear program.
On Wednesday, Iran test-fired its Shahab-3 long-range missile, which the Islamic republic says can reach Israel and US bases in the Gulf, and eight other more medium-range missiles. *AFP