Iranian test shows need for Europe-based missile defence

Other News Materials 6 February 2008 02:56 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Iran's test of a research rocket could aid in the development of ballistic missile technology that could threaten Europe, and shows the need to follow through on plans to deploy a US missile-defence system to Poland and the Czech Republic, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Iran tested a rocket hoping to lay the groundwork for eventually launching its own satellites to space on Monday. US officials are concerned the programme could boost a missile capability and a potential to carry nuclear weapons.

"As they advance in that programme, Europe becomes more and more threatened by it," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. "And, to us, it makes all the more clear the need for a missile defence programme to protect our allies in Europe, as well as ourselves."

The United States is negotiating the construction of a missile- defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic to thwart the Iranian threat despite strong scepticism from some circles in those countries and Western Europe.

Russia steadfastly opposes the controversial plans and the issue has dragged US-Russian relations to the lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

"Hopefully this (Iranian test) will impress upon the Poles and the Czechs and all of Europe that we need to proceed with our negotiations as quickly as possible," Morrell said.

During a visit to Washington last week, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said there was an "agreement in principle" to host 10 interceptor missiles on Poland soil and suggested the two sides were getting closer to a deal. US and Czech officials have also been in talks about the planned location of a radar tracking facility.

The Pentagon hopes to have the system in place by 2013.