Zarif defends missile tests, blames Netanyahu for Mideast tension

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defends his country’s right to use ballistic missiles following a test last week, but dodges questions about anti-Israeli messages reportedly written on them.

Speaking in Wellington, New Zealand, Zarif says Iran has always reserved the right to defend itself.

“Anybody who is crazy enough to attack us, we will attack back using conventional weapons,” he said. “We hope that these conventional weapons will never be used because we do believe that in a war, everybody loses.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens to a question in a joint press briefing with his Omani counterpart Yousuf bin Alawi after their meeting in Tehran, February 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarifin in Tehran, February 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Zarif was responding to questions following an address to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs. He’d earlier met with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to talk about trade, and on Tuesday will travel to Australia.

Iran’s Fars news agency reported that the rockets fired in last Wednesday’s missile tests the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” written on them.

Zarif says he hadn’t yet returned to Iran to check out those reports. When pressed about the issue, he said it was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama who were acting aggressively.

“I ask you to go ask Netanyahu why is he threatening to use force against Iran every day. Go ask Obama why he is threatening to use force against Iran every day,” Zarif says. “Why are they saying all options are on the table?”

— AP

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