DUBAI (Reuters) - The installation of Patriot anti-missile batteries sent by Nato members to bolster Turkey’s Defences against a possible missile attack from Syria will only harm Turkey’s security, Iran’s Defence minister was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Nato approved Turkey’s request for the air Defence system earlier this month, in a move meant to calm Ankara’s fears of being hit by Syrian missiles.

Iran has strongly supported its Arab ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria as he attempts to suppress a 21-month-old uprising against his rule. Tehran opposes the installation of Nato missiles as Western interference in the region and has said it could lead to a “world war.

“The installation of Patriot missiles in Turkey plays no role in establishing Turkey’s security and this harms the country of Turkey,” Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Saturday, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA). “The West has always pursued its viewpoints and interests and we disagree with the presence of Western countries in regional interactions.”

Vahidi also denied that Iran is training Syrian forces to battle the rebels, ISNA reported. Iran considers itself, Syria’s rulers and the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah as part of an “axis of resistance” against US and Israeli power in the Middle East, but has denied accusations that it helping Assad militarily. “Syria has no need for the training of its forces by the Islamic Republic of Iran, because Syria has a powerful military which has prepared itself for involvement with the Zionist regime (Israel),” Vahidi said. Meanwhile, Rigorous new sanctions against Iran’s banking, shipping and industrial sectors took effect on Saturday, as part of the European Union’s effort to force Tehran to scale back its nuclear programme. The sanctions, agreed in October, entered EU law with their publication in the European Union’s Official Journal on Saturday.

The toughest EU measures yet, they include bans on financial transactions, sales to Iran of shipping equipment and steel, and imports of Iranian natural gas, adding to earlier bans, including on the OPEC producer’s oil. They reflect heightened concern over Iran’s nuclear goals and Israeli threats to attack Iranian atomic installations if diplomacy and other measures fail to deliver a solution. Diplomats say they hope talks with Iran can resume in January, but are waiting for an answer from Tehran, which maintains its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes. In a statement, Britain’s foreign office said there was a clear need “for an urgent solution”.

“Iran’s leaders know that sanctions are having a significant impact,” Britain’s Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt said.

“They should be in no doubt that the international community will keep up the pressure until they are ready to negotiate in good faith and take the concrete steps needed to convince the international community that they are not building a nuclear weapon.”

The new sanctions mark a significant change of policy for the 27-member bloc, which previously sought mainly to target specific people and companies with economic restrictions.

It has lagged the United States in imposing blanket industry bans because it is anxious to avoid penalising ordinary Iranian citizens, while punishing the Tehran government.

Sanctions have increasingly inflicted severe pain on the Iranian economy, although the country has years of experience of circumventing them by using front companies and tortuous shipping routes.

The new European measures make clear natural gas shipments are prohibited in any form and swapping, as opposed to simply buying, cargoes is also outlawed.

While imposing a general ban on financial transactions, they make exceptions for those involving humanitarian aid, food and medicine purchases and provisions for legitimate trade.

In a statement, the European Commission said the new law brought the number of entities subject to sanctions to 490 and the total number of persons to 105.

The latest companies added to the banned list include energy and steel distribution firms and financial companies.

The latest individual to be added is Babak Zanjani, owner of the Sorinet Group, based in the United Arab Emirates. He is referred to as “a key facilitator for Iranian oil deals and transferring oil-related money”.

Iran says its nuclear project has only peaceful energy purposes and has refused in three rounds of talks since April to scale back its uranium enrichment activity unless major economic sanctions are rescinded.