Iran mis­sile pro­gram is ‘non-ne­go­tiable’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Iran’s mis­sile pro­gram is “non­nego­tiable” and tests will con­tinue, for­eign min­istry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said yes­ter­day, fol­low­ing crit­i­cism from Euro­pean Union diplo­mats. “Iran’s de­fense ca­pa­bil­i­ties can­not be com­pro­mised and are un­der no cir­cum­stance ne­go­tiable,” he told state tele­vi­sion IRIB. “Mis­sile tests are con­ducted within the frame­work of Iran’s de­fense poli­cies.” A meet­ing of EU for­eign min­is­ters in Brus­sels on Mon­day urged Tehran to re­frain from bal­lis­tic mis­sile test­ing.

Iran’s mil­i­tary has car­ried out a num­ber of mis­sile tests in re­cent months, which the United States and Euro­pean gov­ern­ments have said are a breach of its com­mit­ments un­der last year’s nu­clear deal. Western pow­ers say the mis­siles are ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing nu­clear war­heads and there­fore go against the deal, un­der which Iran agreed to curb its nu­clear pro­gram in ex­change for a lift­ing of global sanc­tions. The EU for­eign min­is­ters called on all sides to re­spect the agree­ment-re­flect­ing con­cerns over US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s vow to ditch it.

Ghasemi wel­comed the EU’s “in­ter­est and de­ter­mi­na­tion to de­velop ties with the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran and the re­newed em­pha­sis on the com­mit­ment of this union in the full im­ple­men­ta­tion by all sides” of the nu­clear deal. The EU has been push­ing to open an of­fice in Tehran amid a surge in in­ter­est from Euro­pean com­pa­nies hop­ing to re­sume trade ties. But there has been push-back from Ira­nian con­ser­va­tives, who say the of­fice would be used to press hu­man rights is­sues, and Ghasemi said last week it was “un­likely such an of­fice would be opened... in the short term”.

The head of Iran’s Hu­man Rights Coun­cil, which falls un­der the hard­line ju­di­ciary, said last month: “If this of­fice is used for fol­low­ing up trade is­sues, there is no prob­lem. But they have said that fol­low­ing the open­ing of this of­fice, they want to have close con­tacts with hu­man rights de­fend­ers and NGOs. “So they should know that the ju­di­ciary will def­i­nitely not al­low such a den of cor­rup­tion to be es­tab­lished in­side Iran,” he said, according to the ISNA news agency.— AFP

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