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Russian Defense Chief: Iranian, N. Korean Missiles No Threat to Europe

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has criticized U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in central Europe, saying Iran and North Korea do not and will not have missiles capable of striking European targets.

Ivanov told reporters Wednesday in New Delhi that Iranian and North Korean arsenals are limited to medium-range missiles that pose no threat to either Europe or the United States.

Ivanov's comments came as top Czech leaders approved plans for opening talks with the United States on an American request to locate part of the missile system on Czech soil.

U.S. State Department officials Tuesday said the sole aim of the system is to protect Europe and the United States against intercontinental missiles fired by so-called rogue states outside the region.

Tuesday, Russia's arms export chief, Sergei Chemezov, announced that Moscow had completed delivery of an anti-aircraft missile system to Iran.

Ivanov said the sale was part of a contract with Iran that pre-dated a United Nations ban on the sale of sensitive missile and nuclear technology to Tehran.

The ban was imposed last month, after Iran rejected a U.N. order to stop enriching uranium.