Missiles Not Subject to Negotiation, Compromise

Missiles Not Subject to Negotiation, CompromiseMissiles Not Subject to Negotiation, Compromise

Iran's missile program is key to its security and will never be negotiable and subject to compromise, a deputy foreign minister said.

Western states have condemned Iran's move to launch ballistic missiles during a military drill last month, alleging that it breached a UN resolution adopted in July to endorse a historic nuclear agreement following protracted negotiations between Iran and major powers.

The resolution "calls upon" Iran to refrain from any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

"The missile issue pertains to security and defense, and we are dead serious about it. We did not allow [the western side] to raise it during the negotiations," Abbas Araqchi told state TV on Saturday.

"They had bizarre expectations about the missile issue that were not fulfilled. We may make these expectations public in future. No wise man agrees to even negotiate, let alone compromise, on its national security."

The US Treasury Department has recently blacklisted two Iranian companies, cutting them off from international finance over their connection to the missile program.

Washington had imposed similar sanctions on 11 businesses and individuals in January over a missile test carried out by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in October 2015.

Iranian officials have asserted Tehran's right to develop its missile program, arguing that it is meant solely as a deterrent.

They have repeatedly pointed out that the UN resolution is not part of the July 14 nuclear deal and its provisions concerning Iran's missile activities are not legally binding, insisting that the Islamic Republic is not seeking to build nuclear-capable missiles.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally known, went into force in January to trigger sanctions relief in return for Tehran temporarily curbing its nuclear program.

  Not Fully Beneficial

Authorities have also complained that due to the remaining US sanctions, including denying non-US companies access to the US financial system to clear dollar-denominated transactions with Iranian businesses, the country has not fully benefited from the JCPOA.

"That we say the sanctions have so far been removed only on paper does mean that the sanctions relief is an insignificant issue," he said.

Araqchi, who also heads the Foreign Ministry's office for the implementation of the action plan, said, "All the sanctions that were to be lifted have been removed … and part of them were suspended" as was agreed under the deal.

Restoring the pre-sanctions situation will take "a long time" and the US is placing hurdles in the way through its restrictive regulations, he said.

The nuclear negotiator said Iran is facing a challenge to win back some traditional oil customers that were driven away by sanctions, while predicting that oil exports would hit the pre-sanctions level of 2.5 billion barrels a day by the next year.