Friday, March 1, 2024

'US working to help Iraq get missile defence capabilities'

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US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday condemned Iran's ballistic missile attack on Iraq's northern Kurdish regional capital of Erbil, and said Washington was working to help Iraq get missile defense capabilities to defend itself.

Sullivan told CBS's "Face the Nation" programme that no US citizens were harmed in the attack, and no US facilities were hit, but the United States would do whatever it takes to defend its people, interests and allies.

"We are in consultation with the Iraqi government and the government in Iraqi Kurdistan, in part to help them get the missile defense capabilities to be able to defend themselves in their cities," he said.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards claimed responsibility for a dozen ballistic missiles that struck Iraq's northern Kurdish regional capital of Erbil in the early hours of Sunday, Iran's state media reported.

The missiles targeted the US consulate among other sites, according to the Kurdish regional government.

Also read: Ballistic missiles hit Iraq's Kurdish capital

Asked about the impact on negotiations over a nuclear agreement with Iran that were at an impasse, Sullivan said, "The various negotiators are back home in their capitals and we will have to see what happens in the days ahead with respect to the diplomacy around the nuclear deal."

He said President Joe Biden remained strongly committed to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"One thing I will say is that the only thing more dangerous than Iran armed with ballistic missiles and advanced military capabilities is an Iran that has all of those things and a nuclear weapon," he said.

US forces stationed at the Erbil International Airport complex had come under previous fire from rocket and drone attacks that Washington blames on Iran-aligned militia groups, but no such attacks have occurred for several months.

The Defence Department referred all queries about Sullivan's comments on missile defense capabilities to the State Department, which oversees security assistance agreements with other countries.

The State Department had no immediate comment on any new security assistance packages for Iraq.

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