WASHINGTON — Iran has moved radar to Syria that could provide early-warning against a possible surprise Israeli air attack against Tehran's nuclear sites, a US defense official said on Friday.
The radar transfer was first reported in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday and prompted the State Department to voice concerns about cooperation between Syria and Iran.
The sophisticated radar were deployed in Syria last year, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
The move could bolster Iran's position amid long-running speculation that Israel might stage a bombing raid against Tehran's nuclear enrichment facilities.
Information from new radar also could potentially help the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah with its missile arsenal and air defenses.
Israel and the United States have refused to rule out military action against Iran over its nuclear program, which Washington says is designed to secure atomic weapons.
Iran has insisted its enrichment effort is purely peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley on Thursday said Washington had concerns about the relationship between Iran and Syria.
"We don't believe that Iran's designs for the region are in Syria's best interest," Crowley told reporters.
While acknowledging that all countries "have the right to protect themselves," the spokesman said the reported radar delivery would be of concern due to Syria's relationship with Hezbollah.
President Barack Obama warned Iran Thursday it faced mounting isolation, signing tough new US sanctions he said would strike at Tehran's capacity to finance its nuclear program.
The measures, on top of new UN Security Council and European sanctions, aim to choke off Iran's access to imports of refined petroleum products like gasoline and jet fuel and curb its access to the international banking system.
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