US mil­i­tary threat ‘old habit that dies hard’: Iran

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Iran’s for­eign min­is­ter dis­missed Satur­day the threat of a U. S. mil­i­tary strike against Tehran’s nu­clear sites, de­scrib­ing such warn­ings as an “old habit that dies hard” given on­go­ing diplo­macy.

Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif, who leads the Ira­nian side in talks with six world pow­ers that aim to end the dis­pute over the Is­lamic repub­lic’s nu­clear pro­gram, said threats of con­flict should be off the ta­ble.

He was re­spond­ing to Gen­eral Martin Dempsey, chair­man of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who Thurs­day said “the mil­i­tary op­tion ... to en­sure that Iran does not achieve a nu­clear weapon is in­tact.”

The United States has long said tar­geted bomb­ing of Iran’s nu­clear sites and other key fa­cil­i­ties may be needed if Tehran — which de­nies seek­ing the bomb — does not rein in its atomic ac­tiv­i­ties.

But Zarif hit back at Dempsey, high­light­ing that his claim was old and dis­count­ing its va­lid­ity given the talks aim to end the nu­clear im­passe and cul­mi­nate in a fi­nal deal by the end of June.

“The mil­i­tary op­tion is nonex­is­tent and doesn’t work against Iran, and it’s bet­ter to stop mak­ing those state­ments,” Zarif said at a joint news con­fer­ence with his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part Julie Bishop.

“We don’t pay at­ten­tion to them be­cause we know that there is none,” Zarif said, again re­fer­ring to the op­tion of a mili- tary attack on Iran.

“The fact we are ne­go­ti­at­ing in­di­cates that every­body un­der­stands the only way to deal with Iran is to rec­og­nize Iran’s rights and have mu­tual re­spect.

“That will pro­vide a far bet­ter an­swer than get­ting en­gaged in dis­as­trous ad­ven­tur­ism,” he added.

Dempsey’s com­ments came af­ter Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Pu- tin lifted a ban on sup­ply­ing S-300 mis­sile sys­tems to Iran. The U.S. gen­eral said the move would not af­fect Amer­ica’s abil­ity to con­duct a mil­i­tary strike.

Rus­sia’s de­ci­sion was con­demned by Is­rael, the most ve­he­ment op­po­nent of the talks be­tween Iran and the five per­ma­nent mem­bers of the U. N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil plus Ger­many.

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