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U.S. claims to defend from Iran's missiles "a joke" - Larijani

RIA Novosti

04/06/2007 14:47 TEHRAN, June 4 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said allegations by the United States that extending Washington's air defense shield to Europe was needed to counter possible strikes from Iran could not be taken seriously.

In January, Washington announced plans to deploy elements of its anti-missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic to prevent possible attacks from so called rogue states, which include Iran and North Korea with their controversial nuclear programs.

"The Americans talk a lot about these jokes... The deployment of the U.S. air defense system in Europe to counter Iranian missiles is the joke of the year," Larijani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, told Iran's IRNA news agency.

He said Iran's missiles could not reach Europe and added he doubted that Washington was unaware of that.

Larijani said Europe was Tehran's major trade partner, while the U.S. allegations were propaganda to cover up Washington's genuine goals.

The diplomat is currently in talks with EU High Representative on the Common Foreign and Security Policy Solana seeking to resolve a dispute over Tehran's controversial uranium enrichment program.

The Islamic Republic has refused to suspend its nuclear program, which Western countries suspect is aimed at making nuclear weapons, whereas Tehran insists it needs nuclear technology for electricity generation only.

Iran failed to halt its uranium enrichment activities by the May 24 deadline set by the UN Security Council, and further expanded its controversial program. Tehran now faces more stringent international sanctions.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said world powers wanted to keep Iran from developing nuclear technologies for fear that the Islamic Republic could become a good example for other countries.

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