Thursday, July 10, 2008

Iran tests more missiles as U.S. vows to defend allies TV

Thu Jul 10, 2008 2:10pm EDT . - Iran tested more missiles in the Gulf on Thursday, state media said, and the United States reminded Tehran that it was ready to defend its allies.

Washington, which accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear arms, said after Iran test-fired nine missiles on Wednesday there should be no more such tests if Iran wanted the world's trust.

U.S. leaders have not ruled out military options if diplomacy fails to assuage fears about Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is only to produce electricity.

Israel, long assumed to have its own atomic arsenal, has sworn to prevent Iran from emerging as a nuclear-armed power. Last month it staged an air force exercise that stoked speculation about a possible assault on Iranian nuclear sites.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday he favored the use of diplomatic pressure and sanctions, but added: "Israel is the strongest country in the region and has proved in the past it is not afraid to take action when its vital security interests are at stake."

Iran has vowed to strike back at Tel Aviv, as well as U.S. interests and shipping, if it is attacked, asserting that missiles fired during war games under way in the Gulf included ones that could hit Israel and U.S. bases in the region.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on a visit to the former Soviet republic of Georgia that no one should be confused about Washington's commitment to protect its allies.

"We are also sending a message to Iran that we will defend American interests and ... the interests of our allies," she said after meeting Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

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