Iran says US anti-missile defence programme leading to arms race
TEHRAN (AFP) Jul 22, 2001
Iran's foreign ministry on Sunday warned that the United States' anti-missile defence programme was leading to an "arms race" among various countries, the state IRNA news agency reported.

"US moves to expand its missile defense system is a step towards disturbing the world's strategic balance," Hamid-Reza Asefi said cited by IRNA.

He said US justifications for the defence programme were "unfounded and exaggerated," and accsued Washington of trying to "dominate the world as a unique power."

Asefi warned against the "adverse consequences of the policy in leading to an arms race among countries," and said the defence programme would risk jeopardizing the "fragile stability in global security."

Asefi "called for an immediate halt of the trend to push the world to the verge of an arms race," IRNA said.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi condemned the United States' defence programme after its recent successful missile defence test, warning that it would "relaunch the arms race" and "threatens collective peace and security."

In Saturday's 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 US successfully intercepted an intercontinental missile using another missile, and on Sunday, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the Pentagon will conduct 20 missile interception tests over the next five years.

Tehran and Washington 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.