Iran condemns US anti-missile defence test
TEHRAN (AFP) Jul 17, 2001
Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi condemned the United States' anti-missile defence programme after its successful missile defence test over the weekend.

"The programme will relaunch the arms race which is why we are opposed to it," Kharazi was quoted by Tuesday's press as saying, adding that the US anti-missile program "threatens collective peace and security."

"Iran is not concerned by this programme (...), but we are opposed to it because it will have an impact on the arms race," he said.

In Saturday's defence test, a "kill vehicle" collided with a dummy warhead 232 kilometers (144 miles) over the Pacific Ocean.

It was only the second time in four attempts the United States successfully intercepted an intercontinental missile using another missile.

On Sunday, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the Pentagon will conduct 20 missile interception tests over the next five years similar to the one Saturday in which a dummy warhead was destroyed over the Pacific.

On Tehran-Washington ties, Kharazi echoed past calls by Iranian officials according to which the United States must "take the first step" and lift its sanctions against Iran.

The two nations broke ties after the 1979 seizure of US embassy staff as hostages by Islamic students, and attempts at rapprochement have been dogged by fierce resentment over US support for Israel, as well as Washington's backing for Iran's ousted imperial regime.

Iran has since repeatedly said it would welcome the return of US companies, particularly in its lucrative oil sector, and that Washington's attitude was only serving to hurt US firms.