Iran insists Turkey's NATO radar is to protect Israel
TEHRAN - Turkey's hosting an early-warning radar as part of NATO's missile defence system is to protect Israel, the official IRNA news agency cited Iran defence minister as saying on Thursday.
"Installation of the radar system is to defend the Zionist regime since this regime is on a downhill trajectory and America has been forced to get involved directly to save it", Ahmad Vahidi said.
"We will not allow any foreign forces to threaten our interests and we will strongly confront any threat", he added on the sidelines of a military parade marking the 31st anniversary of the start of a bloody eight-year war with Iraq.
Tehran has toughened its criticism of the Turkish plan to host the early warning radar system allocated by the United States to NATO, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticising "brother" Turkey.
Other officials in the Islamic republic have said the deployment would create tension and lead to "complicated consequences".
Leaders of the 28-member NATO alliance gave their backing last year for the Europe-wide ballistic missile shield, which US officials say is aimed at thwarting missile threats from the Middle East, particularly Iran.
On September 9, the foreign ministry in Ankara said the early warning radar will be deployed at a military facility base in Kurecik near Malatya in the southeast.
Tehran has made maintaining good relations with Ankara a priority in recent years, and has considered Turkey an ally for its refusal to implement Western sanctions against Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme.
Tehran does not recognise Israel, and Ahmadinejad has repeatedly dubbed the Holocaust a "lie" which he said was used as an excuse for Israel's creation.