No Agreement With EU on Missile Talks

No Agreement With EU on Missile TalksNo Agreement With EU on Missile Talks

Iran ruled out any negotiations on its missile program, denying recent reports of having ultimately agreed to "intensive" missile talks with European powers.    

"The Islamic Republic's policy and stance on its defensive missile program is completely clear, of which all other countries are well aware," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted by Fars News Agency as saying on Tuesday.

"The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran has remained unchanged despite threats from the United States and others and as we have repeatedly announced Iran's missile program is totally defensive and deterrent in nature and is not meant to be used against any other country," Qasemi stressed.

He was responding to a Financial Times report on Monday that cited Germany's Foreign Ministry as claiming that German, French and British foreign ministers, along with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, have agreed with Iran to hold an "intensive and very serious dialogue" on Tehran's missile activities and regional role.

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's top diplomat, briefed his US counterpart Rex Tillerson about the alleged plan after the European officials met their Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Brussels a week ago, the FT report added.

The ministerial meeting convened a day before US President Donald Trump set a 120-day ultimatum for the "disastrous flaws" of the Iran nuclear deal to be fixed, in what the Republican hawk warned was the last time he would extend the waivers of sanctions against Iran, suspended under the international deal in return for temporary curbs on its nuclear work.

***Careful Assessment

The EU said Tuesday it is "carefully assessing" Trump's statement, AFP reported.

Europe has staunchly defended the deal as a major diplomatic breakthrough, but Trump has said Washington will abandon the deal and reimpose sanctions unless Tehran is subjected to tougher controls that would also target its missile development, among its other non-nuclear activities.

The European signatories have supported Trump's call for non-nuclear restrictions on the Islamic Republic but insist the 2015 nuclear deal must remain separate from discussion of other matters.

The EU's Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said the bloc was consulting with Britain, France and Germany—signatories to the deal known as the E3—on how to respond.

"You [saw] that last Friday the United States extended the sanctions waivers," Hahn told the European Parliament.

"We are now, together with the E3 and the other EU member states, carefully assessing the statement and its implications."

European officials, however, have been keen to stress that they challenged Zarif during the talks last week.

"These issues include the tensions in the Middle East, Iran's ballistic missiles program, as well as the protests that took place in Iran in recent weeks," Hahn said.

"Let us be clear: all these issues must be addressed, and must be addressed outside the scope of the nuclear deal," he said.

"None of them would be easier to address if the JCPOA was not in place—on the contrary," Hahn stressed, using the deal's technical name.

Iran has said the deal could never be reopened for negotiation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday warned Europe against compromising on the deal, saying it would be a "slippery slope in a very dangerous direction".

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