Iran’s missile program not negotiable under any condition

TEHRAN, Jul. 17 (MNA) – Foreign ministry officials have strongly rejected some foreign media’s claims about Iran readiness to negotiate over its missile program.

"We categorically reject the AP’s characterization of FM Zarif’s comments to NBC News that "if the US wants to talk about missiles, it should stop selling weapons, including missiles, to regional states” as meaning that Iran is willing to negotiate on its defensive missile program at some point. Iran’s missiles and its missiles are absolutely and under no condition negotiable with anyone or any country, period,” tweeted Alireza Miryousefi, head of Media office at Iranian Mission to the United Nations.

“Surely AP reporters are familiar enough with conversational English to know and understand and are able to contextualize comments on the hypothetical, as well as parrying with words to make a point. Drawing a false conclusion in pursuit of headlines, when what was said in the context was obvious, only leads to a diminution of the standing of the press with the public,” he also added.

The remarks came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed on Tuesday that Tehran was willing to discuss their ballistic missile program. According to CNN, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus couldn't clarify what Pompeo's comments were based on, saying, "I think he was responding" to a media report that Iran subsequently appeared to reject.

Tehran has always stressed that its missile program along with its defense power is non-negotiable.

Also, in a Tuesday tweet, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi described Foreign Minister Zarif’s remark in the interview with NBC as ‘precise and clever’, adding that the minister’s answer “throw the ball in US’s court and also instead of having a defensive stance, challenged the issue of arms sales to regional countries. The stance of Iran and Mohammad Javad Zarif on the country’s missile capabilities are clear.”

In his interview, Zarif said that room for negotiation with US is “wide open” if US stops sanctions and comes back to the bargaining table. Then when asked about the possibility of talks over Iran’s missile program, Zarif said, “Let’s all start with we already agreed, let us see what we can do and then if you want to discuss ballistic missiles, then we need to discuss the amount of weapons sold to our region. Last year Iran spent $16bn all together on its military, we have an 82 million population …  The United Arab Emirates with a million population spent $22bn. Saudi Arabia with less than half of our population spent $67bn, most of them are American. These are American weaponry that is going into our region, making our region ready to explode. So if they want to talk about our missiles, they need first to stop selling all these weapons including missiles to our region.”

MAH/4668628

News Code 147732

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