Iran’s missile program non-negotiable: Salehi

February 22, 2019

TEHRAN - Ali Akbar Salehi, director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, has said that Iran’s missile program is “non-negotiable”.

In an interview with Aljazeera aired on Thursday, he said that Iran has repeatedly said that its missiles are purely deterrent and defensive.

Salehi also said that Iran can resist sanctions and will not give in to foreign pressure due to its self-sufficiency in various areas.

Salehi, a nuclear physicist, also said that Iran has technological capability to return to pre-JCPOA situation.

He urged the European countries to remain committed to the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The Europeans have taken first step, he said, expressing hope that they will take more steps in next months to preserve the JCPOA.

In May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA and ordered reimposition of sanctions against Iran. The first round of sanctions went into force on August 6 and the second round, which targets Iran’s oil exports and banks, were snapped back on November 4.

After months of delay on January 31, France, Germany and Britain finally announced the creation of INSTEX, a special purpose vehicle aimed at facilitating legitimate trade between European economic operators and Iran.

The European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said INSTEX will support legitimate European trade with Iran.

‘Warsaw conference was a disgrace’

Salehi also said that the Warsaw conference on the Middle East was “fruitless” and a “disgrace” for Washington.

The Warsaw conference was organized by the U.S. in the Polish capital Warsaw on February 13-14. It was intended to isolate Iran. However, the conference faced a cold shoulder. EU chief diplomat Mogherini did not attend the conference. European officials, the main allies of the U.S. in NATO, either boycotted the conference or sent low-ranking officials to Warsaw.

‘Iran ready to hold talks with Saudi Arabia’

Salehi also said that Iran is ready to hold talks with Saudi Arabia to settle differences.

“Iran has just good intentions for the Persian Gulf littoral states. We want security and stability for these countries, but they have a different view,” noted Salehi, a soft-spoken nuclear scientist who also served as foreign minister and Iran’s representative to the Jeddah-based OIC office.