Russia: Iran deal ends need for missile defense

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BRUSSELS (AP) - An international deal aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons will in the long run eliminate any need for a missile defense system in Europe, Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday.

American officials have said the missile defenses they want to install in Europe will protect NATO allies and counter any threat from Iran. Russia has long opposed the plan, and sees the system as a threat to the viability of Russia's own nuclear arsenal as a deterrent.

In Geneva last month, leading world powers reached a deal with Iran to ensure that its nuclear program remains peaceful.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters after a meeting Wednesday with NATO counterparts there's "no reason" for the missile defense plan if that deal is implemented fully.

His German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, also noted a connection between the Iran nuclear agreement and the missile defense.

"What we have been able to achieve so far on the Iranian nuclear program gives us hope in other contexts, too _ also on the difficult issue of missile defense," he told reporters in Brussels. "Because one thing is obvious, that there is a connection here."

"The more progress we can achieve on the Iranian nuclear program, the greater the effects are regarding the missile defense program" and the chance of overcoming "difficulties" with Russia on it, Westerwelle said.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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