Iran says missile program ‘non-negotiable’
TEHRAN: Iran has denied media reports that it was willing to engage in talks with the U.S. about the country’s ballistic missile program.
“Iran’s missiles are absolutely and under no condition negotiable with anyone or any country,” Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN, said on Twitter.
The Associated Press reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had suggested that Tehran was willing to negotiate its missile program if Washington lifted sanctions.
“We rule out AP’s interpretation from Zarif’s statements in an interview with NBC,” Iran’s mission in the UN said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency. In the interview, Zarif called on Washington to halt the export of weapons to regional states.
“These are American weaponry that is going into our region, making our region ready to explode,” Zarif said. “So if they want to talk about our missiles, they need first to stop selling all these weapons, including missiles, to our region.”
Last month, Iran announced it had developed a new locally manufactured air defense missile system that has the capability to destroy fighter jets and drones with a range up to 120 kilometers (75 miles).
Tensions have been rising between the U.S. and Iran since May 2018, when Washington unilaterally withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the EU. The U.S. has since embarked upon a diplomatic and economic campaign to put pressure on Iran in order to renegotiate the agreement, as well as other Iranian activities Washington considers to be “destabilizing”.
As part of its campaign, the U.S. has re-imposed sanctions on exports of Iranian crude oil, which have nosedived the Iranian economy. (AA)