|Iran rejects U.S. call for inclusion of missile program in nuclear talks||
TEHRAN - Talks on a permanent Iran nuclear accord opened in Vienna on Tuesday with the U.S. pressing Tehran to agree that the deal should encompass caps on its ballistic missile capabilities, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“They have to deal with matters related to their ballistic missile program,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
In addition, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who is the lead U.S. negotiator in talks with Iran, recently said that Iran’s ballistic missile program would be addressed as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal.
But Iran says the missile program is part of its defense establishment and outside of the purview of the nuclear talks.
Last week, Iran successfully test-fired two domestically manufactured ballistic missiles.
The members of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team who traveled to Vienna insisted that the negotiations would not focus on the issue of Tehran’s ballistic missile capabilities.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s defense issues are neither negotiable nor subject to compromise. They are definitely among our red lines in any talks,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Iranian state television on Sunday. “We won’t discuss any issue other than the nuclear dossier in the negotiations.”
U.S. officials, however, insisted that Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities would be addressed as part of any final accord on the nuclear program.
“Every issue is on the table as part of the comprehensive negotiations, including Iran’s ballistic missile program,” said a senior administration official at the talks.
The talks involve Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.
Meetings are scheduled through Thursday, largely focused on creating a framework for what’s expected to be six months of negotiations aimed at forging a final nuclear deal.
On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham reiterated that the Islamic Republic will not discuss military issues, including its ballistic missile program, during the nuclear talks with the world powers.
“Military issues are not related to the nuclear issue and have no place in the nuclear negotiations,” she said.
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