Iran vows to pursue ballistic missile development, slams ‘irrational’ Trump

Amid US president’s push to incorporate Tehran’s ballistic capabilities into nuke accord, Iranian official says program ‘the only deterrent against enemy threats’

Iranians gather next to a replica of a medium-range ballistic missile during a demonstration outside the former US embassy in the Iranian capital Tehran on November 4, 2017, marking the anniversary of its storming by student protesters that triggered a hostage crisis in 1979. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

Iranians gather next to a replica of a medium-range ballistic missile during a demonstration outside the former US embassy in the Iranian capital Tehran on November 4, 2017, marking the anniversary of its storming by student protesters that triggered a hostage crisis in 1979. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

An Iranian government official on Saturday said that Iran would pursue its ballistic missile program despite US pressure, and slammed US President Donald Trump for his “irrational behavior,” calling him the “most hated president in American history.”

In an interview on Saturday with the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), an operation partly funded by the Iranian government, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said Iran makes decisions based on national interests and that its ballistic capabilities served as a deterrent.

“Ballistic capability is the only deterrent against enemy threats,” Boroujerdi was quoted by ISNA as saying, “after Iran has agreed to have no nuclear weapons and to use no weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons, because it is totally against the use of weapons of mass destruction.”

The remark comes on the heels of Trump’s decision on Friday to sign a waiver on Iranian sanctions, suspending punitive measures for another 120 days and keeping the Iran nuclear deal alive. The US president warned that this would be the last time he does so unless Congress and European countries fix the nuclear deal’s “terrible flaws,” and heed his call to strengthen it, including incorporating Iran’s missile program into the accord.

In this January 9, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The US president has to sign sanctions waivers every four months, while the American intelligence services monitor the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the nuclear deal, signed in 2015, which rolled back crippling sanctions against Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

In a statement following the signing of the waivers, Trump laid out four conditions that must be met, including increased inspections, ensuring “Iran never even comes close to possessing a nuclear weapon,” and that there be no expiry date to the nuke deal. The current one expires after a decade.

His last condition required Capitol Hill lawmakers to pass a bill unilaterally incorporating Iran’s missile program into the nuclear deal.

“The legislation must explicitly state in United States law — for the first time — that long-range missile and nuclear weapons programs are inseparable, and that Iran’s development and testing of missiles should be subject to severe sanctions,” the president’s written statement said.

Iran has repeatedly said that the nuclear accord could not be renegotiated, including earlier Saturday when the Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Tehran would “accept no changes” to the deal and will not allow the accord to be linked to any non-nuclear issue.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran stresses clearly that it will take no measures beyond its commitments under the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the deal’s official name] and will accept no changes to this agreement now or in the future, and will not allow that the JCPOA be linked to any other issue [than the nuclear issue],” said Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

The ministry added that, “The internal solidity of and international support for the agreement have blocked attempts by Mr. Trump, the Zionist regime and the ominous alliance of hard-line warmongers to terminate this agreement or make changes to it.”

In the interview with ISNA Saturday, Boroujerdi said that “while many European countries and the signatories of the nuclear deal have repeatedly protested [against] the irrational behavior of Trump, he is still considered as a serious violator of JCPOA.”

But “Trump was forced once again to extend Iran’s nuclear sanctions waiver despite all the boasts,” he added.

Boroujerdi said Trump was “the most hated president [in] the American history, whose hatred has crossed US geological boundaries and [has] become a global phenomenon.”

Agencies and Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-vows-to-pursue-ballistic-missile-development-slams-irrational-trump/

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