Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier-General Hossein Dehqan said Sunday that discussion about the destruction of the United States’s and Israel’s nuclear weapons capabilities should immediately follow current talks with the international community on Iran’s nuclear program.
“We ask our nuclear negotiators to focus their utmost efforts on the complete annihilation of the Zionist regime’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as the biggest danger posed to the region and world security as well as the US nuclear disarmament based on paragraph 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) alongside their negotiations with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany),” Dehqan said, as cited in the semi-official Fars News Agency.
The focus must be on a Middle East free of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), he was quoted as saying.
“Iran’s missile capability is defensive, conventional and deterrent and not negotiable,” said the Iranian defense minister, in response to a UN report earlier this month saying that the Islamic Republic was pursuing a robust ballistic missile program even as nuclear talks were ongoing.
Earlier this month, the UN reported that Iran has pursued ballistic missile development even as international talks surrounding efforts to scale back its nuclear program have been ongoing.
“With the exception of several launches, periodic displays of hardware and one recent revelation of a new ballistic launch facility, the program is opaque and not subject to the same level of transparency that Iran’s nuclear activities are under IAEA safeguards,” the UN panel of experts wrote.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the report by telling a visiting US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Israel has been “saying all along that Iran is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community.”
“So I wasn’t surprised and I’m sure you weren’t surprised by the recent UN report on Iran’s ongoing efforts to deceive the international community, to continue to develop its ICBMs and to continually violate its commitments of Security Council stipulations on forbidding it to develop certain parts of its nuclear program,” said Netanyahu.
Hagel assured Netanyahu that the United States would continue its commitment to ensuring Iran does not get a nuclear weapon” and that the US would “continue to hold Iran accountable for its destabilizing activities across the region,”
“We will continue working closely with all of our friends and partners in the Gulf to reinforce their defenses against these destabilizing activities,” he added.