US, Israel test missile, send Iran message
India’s President Patil (2nd L) talks with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Iran.China’s Foreign Ministry said Feb. 10 that it will send a senior official to Iran for talks on the country’s nuclear program, which has spurred tensions between Tehran and the West and led to new EU and U.S. sanctions.
Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu will head to Iran for talks on Feb. 12, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said, reiterating Beijing’s emphasis on diplomacy over sanctions to resolve the issue.
“We have consistently advocated dialogue and cooperation as the only proper channel for resolving the Iran nuclear issue,” Liu told reporters at a regular news briefing. China is Iran’s political ally and the top buyer of Iranian oil, taking around 20 percent of total exports.
Meanwhile, the EU on Feb. 10 pushed India to use its influence to get Iran to resume talks over its disputed nuclear drive, a day after New Delhi said it wanted to boost trade with the Islamic republic. India, also a major buyer of Iranian oil, has emerged as a potential spoiler as Western nations look to ratchet up pressure to force Tehran to abandon its atomic programme.
Speaking at a news briefing for the EU-India summit in New Delhi, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy expressed “deep concern” about Iran’s nuclear ambitions which the West fears is aimed at building a nuclear bomb. India should “use their leverage to get Iran back to the negotiating table,” he said.
Premier Manmohan Singh sidestepped Van Rompuy’s call for action saying “we sincerely believe that this issue can be and should be resolved by giving maximum scope to diplomacy.”
As shuttle diplomacy continues over Iran’s nuclear issue, Israel tested an upgraded radar for the Arrow missile defense system, developed with the U.S. and designed to intercept projectiles that might be fired at Israel.
The Israeli defense ministry said Feb. 10 that Israel and the U.S. recently carried out a successful test of the Arrow anti-missile system over the Mediterranean Sea.
During the target-only tracking exercise, the Arrow’s radar tracked a target “representative of potential ballistic missile threats facing Israel” the ministry said. According to the defense ministry, the test was the final one “prior to delivery of block 4 Arrow Weapons System.” “This was a major milestone in the development of the Arrow Weapon System and provides confidence in operational Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat,” the ministry said.