PARIS The European Union voiced concern on Friday over Iranian missiles tests in the Gulf and stepped up calls on Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment within its disputed nuclear program.
Russia said Iran's missile tests showed there is no military justification for U.S. plans for a missile shield in eastern Europe, arguing that the shield was beyond the range of Tehran's rockets.
Iran this week test-fired several missiles it said were capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East. The United States has reminded Tehran it was ready to defend its allies.
The escalating tension has helped to push oil prices to a new record high of near $147 a barrel on Friday. Iran is the world's fourth-largest oil exporter and there are fears of supply disruptions in the event of conflict.
The French Presidency of the European Union expressed concern on Friday over the missile tests.
"The EU calls on Iran to finally react to the entire international community's demands as expressed in (U.N.) Security Council resolutions to reach a negotiated solution on the nuclear issue," it added in a statement.
The United States and European powers suspect Iran is trying develop a nuclear weapon, using its civilian nuclear program as a cover. Tehran denies any such intention and says its nuclear program is exclusively to generate electricity.
The United States has refused to rule out military action against Iran over the nuclear issue, although it says it is committed to finding a diplomatic solution, and has joined other world powers in offering Tehran a new package of incentives to suspend its uranium enrichment.
In Tehran, a national security official said on Friday that Iran's chief nuclear negotiator will meet European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Geneva on July 19 for talks on Iran's nuclear program.
"Based on Solana's invitation, Saeed Jalili will meet Solana in Geneva on July 19 to discuss the nuclear package," Ahmad Khademolmelleh, spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said in a statement sent to Reuters.
Solana presented the package of incentives proposed by world powers to coax Iran to halt sensitive nuclear work the West fears is aimed making bombs in June. Iran has offered its own package to resolve the standoff.
Russia, which has close energy industry ties to Iran, said the missile tests showed that U.S. plans to site a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic were unnecessary.
"The tests in Iran have only confirmed that Iran at the moment has rockets with a range of up to 2,000 km (1,243 miles). That confirms what we have said before," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news briefing.
"That is that the current idea of deploying a U.S. ... missile shield in Europe, with its parameters, is not needed to monitor and react to these particular rockets with this range," he added.
Washington, arguing that the shield is needed to defend against any missile attacks from countries such as Iran, has signed an accord with Prague on installing a tracking radar on the Czech Republic's soil as part of the anti-missile shield, and is pushing Poland to host another part of the project.
Russia says the U.S. plans are a direct threat to its security.
Lavrov said negotiations, not threats, were the only way to resolve the dispute with Iran.
"Overall we are in favor of any problems which are linked to Iran being resolved through negotiations, political and diplomatic methods, by bringing Iran into a mutually respectful and concrete dialogue," Lavrov said.