Tehran Refuses to Heed Macron’s Call for Talks over Ballistic Program

Tehran Refuses to Heed Macron’s Call for Talks over Ballistic Program

Monday, 13 November, 2017 - 08:45
A display featuring missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is seen at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran September 27, 2017. (Reuters)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Iran’s Foreign Ministry rejected on Sunday French President Emanuel Macron’s call to hold talks on Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said its missile program was defensive and unrelated to the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that put a cap on Iran's nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.

Macron, during a visit to Dubai on Thursday, said he was "very concerned" by Tehran's missile program after Saudi Arabia claimed it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen earlier this month.

Each of Germany, Britain and France said last month that they were committed to the nuclear agreement, but the three countries stressed in a unified statement the need to confront Iran's regional activities, starting with the ballistic missiles development program.

“France is fully aware of our country’s firm position that Iran’s defense affairs are not negotiable,” said Qassemi.

“We have told French officials repeatedly that the nuclear deal is not negotiable and other issues will not be allowed to be added to it,” he continued, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

The United States had accused Iran on Tuesday of supplying Yemen’s Houthi coup militias with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the United Nations to hold Tehran accountable for violating two UN Security Council resolutions.

More so, Saudi Arabia and allies accuse Iran of supplying missiles and other weapons to the Houthis, saying the arms were not present in Yemen before conflict broke out there in 2015.

Iran denies the charges and blames the conflict on Riyadh.

The US imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran in October, saying its missile tests violate a UN resolution that calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, Iranian Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behruz Kemalundi confirmed the validity of footage referred to by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano and the shutting of over 2,000 Iranian nuclear sites.

"The information on Iran's activities is confidential and should not be transferred to the IAEA," Kemalundi added.

Despite his assertion, Kemalundi tried to downplay the importance of Amano's claims and ease his influence on the Iranian interior by saying that the IAEA chief's remarks were aimed at pleasing American officials.

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