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Iran slams Turkey over Nato radar

Iran has criticised Turkey for agreeing to allow Nato to station an early warning radar in the south-east of the country that will serve as part of the alliance's missile defence system.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed the defence system was meant to protect Israel against Iranian missile attacks in the event of a war with the Jewish state.

"The missile defence shield is aimed at defending the Zionist regime. They don't want to let our missiles land in the occupied territories (Israel) if one day they take action against us. That's why they put it there," Mr Ahmadinejad said in an address to the nation on state TV.

Turkey agreed to host the radar in September as part of Nato's missile defence system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighbouring Iran.

Ankara claims the shield does not target a specific country and had threatened to block the deal if Iran was explicitly named as a threat.

A military installation in Kurecik has been designated as the radar site, according to Turkish government officials. Kurecik in Malatya province lies some 435 miles west of the Iranian border.

In September, Pentagon spokesman Col Dave Lapan said the United States hoped to have the radar deployed there by the end of the year.

Mr Ahmadinejad said his government had conveyed Iran's displeasure to Turkish officials.

"We told our Turkish friends that it was not a correct job they did and that it's to their detriment," he said. "Such shields can't prevent the collapse of the Zionist regime."

The deployment in Turkey, the biggest Muslim voice in Nato, signals improving ties with Washington since the 2003 Iraq invasion. Turkey also closely works with US forces in Nato operations in Afghanistan and Libya, though it is not directly involved in combat.

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