Iran Refuses to Negotiate on Missiles, Regional Intervention, Except Yemen
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Monday his country refuses to respond to European demands on its regional role and ballistic missiles.
At the same time, he expressed Tehran’s willingness to negotiate on Yemen.
Iran's announcement comes a week after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed a list of 12 requirements that Iran must meet before a new nuclear deal can be agreed.
Among them are demands for Iran to end support for Houthis in Yemen, “withdraw all forces” from Syria and halt support for its allies in Syria.
“We have said many times: the nuclear program isn’t related to any other matter. We will not enter into negotiations on missiles or the region, aside from Yemen,” Araqchi asserted.
This is the first time Iran agrees to include one of the regional files in the nuclear agreement. The Iranian Foreign Ministry, which is responsible for the nuclear negotiations, refuses to negotiate on the ballistic missile program and Tehran’s regional role.
In February, Araqchi told Reuters there was no link between Iran’s influence in the Middle East and the nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday to discuss the Iran deal.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stressed that member-states were intensely coordinating their efforts "to protect the economic investments of European businesses that have legitimately invested and engaged in Iran" over the past three years since the nuclear deal was agreed.
Mogherini insisted the EU was not motivated by business profits in trying to keep the deal alive.
"For us, it's not about an economic interest, this is about a security interest for the European Union, because in the absence of the nuclear deal with Iran, we believe the security of the region and of Europe would be at stake and so this is why we are insisting so much about keeping this agreement in place,” she insisted.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that Beijing will host Iranian President Hassan Rouhani next month at a regional summit.
China’s President Xi Jinping will meet Rouhani on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting on June 9-10 in Qingdao, said Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Russian President Vladimir Putin will also attend the meeting.
His trip will be part of a flurry of Iranian diplomatic efforts aimed at saving the nuclear deal.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had visited Moscow and Beijing shortly after US President Trump announced his country’s withdrawal from the agreement on May 8.
China is Iran's leading trading partner and one of the largest oil buyers, and has said it intends to continue to deal with the government in Tehran despite the threat of US sanctions.
Chinese businesses are expected to step up activities in Iran to fill the void left by the exit of US companies and the possible withdrawal of European rivals amid punitive measures enforced by the US, reported Agence France Presse.