A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi responded Saturday to France’s threat to sanction the Islamic Republic over its ballistic missile program, saying that Iran may have to “reconsider” its ties with Europe.
“If further sanctions are imposed on Iran,” Qassemi said, “we will reconsider our relations with Europe and continue to advance our defense capabilities.”
"Our military capabilities are part of legitimate defense powers of the state, and guarantee the national security of the Islamic Republic, which is based on deterrence,” he said. "Iran's missile capability is not negotiable, and this fact has been transferred to the French side in the dialogue between Iran and France.”
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has always sought peace and stability in the region and believes that the massive sales of sophisticated and aggressive weapons by the United States and several European countries, including France, have undermined the peace and quiet in the region," Qassemi added.
In addition, Qassemi said that Iran had planned its defense capabilities on the basis of a realistic assessment of existing threats, and would strengthen them as needed.
On Friday, the French foreign ministry announced their intention to impose significant sanctions on Iran if there is no progress in talks on the country’s ballistic missile program.
Relations between the two countries have become strained in recent months, after France accused Iran of having ordered a massive terrorist attack, never carried out, in Paris. France claimed that the orchestrator of the attack, which was foiled in June this year, was the Iranian intelligence minister himself, Saeid Hashemi Moghadam.
"Behind this conclusion was a long, meticulous and detailed investigation that allowed us to reach an unequivocal conclusion that the responsibility of the attack lies within the Iranian intelligence ministry," French officials said at the time.
"We want the French authorities to be realistic about the Islamic Republic of Iran, and we warn against the evil forces that are trying to destroy the long-standing relations between Iran and France and the rest of Europe," a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in response to Qassemi’s statement.