Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that his country was unwilling to hold talks on curbing its ballistic missile program.
“We will negotiate with no one on our weapons,” said Rouhani in a press conference in Tehran, pushing back against US calls to add missile development prohibitions to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran has continued to develop its ballistic missile program, leading to international consternation and vows from the US to reimpose sanctions. Iran says missile tests are allowed under the nuclear accord signed with six world power because it only prohibits the use of projectiles that can carry nuclear payloads, which Tehran says it does not posses.
“Iranian-made missiles have never been offensive and never will be. They are defensive and are not designed to carry weapons of mass destruction, since we don’t have any,” Rouhani said.
He reiterated that the nuclear deal could not be renegotiated, despite threats from US President Donald Trump to reimpose sanctions unless the deal was “fixed” and fresh fresh curbs were put on Iran’s missiles and regional behavior.
“The key to the problems between Tehran and Washington is in Washington’s hands. They need to stop their threats and sanctions and pressure, and automatically the situation will improve and we can think about our future,” Rouhani said.
Echoing comments made earlier this week by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman suggested last week that that while European countries seem unlikely to budge in their support for the nuclear deal, they may be moving closer to tackling the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program.
With dim prospects for re-opening the deal, Trump’s administration has instead been looking to add requirements to the US law governing implementation of the deal so that sanctions, waived as part of the deal, could be put back in place if Iran continues with non-nuclear activity that the US deems unacceptable.
The Trump administration has also been trying to persuade the European nations that negotiated the deal with the Obama administration to accept side deals under which they would join the US in re-imposing sanctions if Iran continues ballistic missile testing or refuses UN inspections of sensitive sites.
Trump’s threats to rip up the painstakingly negotiated deal have become a key point of tension between the US and Europe.