AN IRANIAN ballistic missile on display in Tehran. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi stressed on Monday that the country would never negotiate over its missile program, saying that the country will continue to boost its deterrence power “to protect national security.”
“Our policy on missiles is clear and the issue as part of our country’s defense sector cannot be negotiated,” he was quoted as saying by Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
The missile program is in line with efforts to protect the country’s security, Qassemi said, adding that Iran does not want to have difficulties acquiring weapons if needed.
Qassemi also denied holding secret talks with France over the Islamic Republic’s controversial ballistic missile program after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was ready to impose more sanctions if there was no progress in talks over the program.
Le Drian was quoted as saying on Friday that “we have begun a difficult dialogue with Iran… and unless progress is made we are ready to apply sanctions, firmly, and they know it.” He also demanded that Iran change its behavior in the region, specifically in Syria.
Despite new US sanctions placed on Iran meant to pressure Tehran over its military activity in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program, Tehran is continuing to improve its missile arsenal, defending the program as being purely defensive.
“There have been no talks, whether secret or not secret, about our missile program with France or any other country,” Qassemi said. “Our missile program is a defensive program that we only discuss inside the country. I cannot confirm holding any secret talks with France over our missile program.”
The Islamic Republic possesses over 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and has the ability to proliferate weapons to countries and non-state actors such as Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.Israel is concerned that Iran
is not only trying to consolidate its grip in Syria where it could establish a forward base to attack Israel, but that it is trying to build advanced weapons factories in Syria and Lebanon in order to manufacture GPS-guided missiles that could hit targets with greater accuracy.
Israel has reiterated its view several times that any transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah as a “red line,” and it will work to prevent any such movement.
Earlier on Monday, a commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said that the country’s strategy was to wipe “the Zionist regime” off of the political map.
“We announce that if Israel takes any action to wage a war against us, it will definitely lead to its own elimination and freeing of occupied territories,” Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy head of the IRGC, was quoted by Iran’s Mehr news agency as saying.
“Israelis won’t even have a cemetery in Palestine to bury their corpses,” he added.
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