Netanyahu, Rouhani duel over Iran’s ballistic missiles

Iran will continue to produce missiles, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Netanyahu and Rouhani (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST,REUTERS)
Netanyahu and Rouhani
The Iranian nuclear deal should be altered to prevent Iran’s development of ballistic weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated on Sunday, the same day Iran’s president vowed to continue with his country’s ballistic-missile development.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told parliament in a speech broadcast on Sunday that Iran will continue to produce missiles for its defense.
“We have built, are building and will continue to build missiles, and this violates no international agreements,” Rouhani said defiantly in his speech to parliament.
Rouhani spoke days after the US House of Representatives voted for new sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program, part of an effort to clamp down on Tehran without immediately moving to undermine an international nuclear agreement.
During a briefing that National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat gave the cabinet on recent meetings in Washington and Moscow, Netanyahu reiterated Islam’s position that the Iranian nuclear deal – known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – needed to be either scrapped or fixed.
Netanyahu listed the following points in the agreement that needed to be fixed: canceling the agreement’s “sunset clauses” that lift sanctions automatically at certain dates, irrespective of Iranian behavior; canceling permits for advanced centrifuges; and tightening supervision at military and other sites, something that Netanyahu said is currently not taking place.
In addition, Netanyahu said Israel is also raising other issues that need to be addressed that are not in the nuclear deal, such as Iran’s ballistic missile development, its aggression in the region, and its terrorist network.
Netanyahu pointed to the nuclear agreement that the world cheered in 1994 with North Korea, saying, “We have seen what has happened since, and Iran is 30 times stronger economically than North Korea. It has aspirations of regional and global dominance.”
Statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following US President Trump"s speech on Iran, October 14, 2017. (YouTube/IsraeliPM)
On Sunday, Rouhani met Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who again vouched for Iran’s compliance with the 2015 accord that curbed its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
“Director-general Amano reiterated that the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran are being implemented, and that the JCPOA represents a clear gain from a verification point of view,” an IAEA statement read.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has pressed the IAEA to seek access to Iranian military bases, to ensure that they are not concealing activities banned by the nuclear deal.
Ali Akbar Salehi, president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran who took part in the meetings, said Amano made no request for new inspections, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
Ben-Shabbat, who held talks earlier in the month both in Washington and Moscow, told the cabinet that both capitals were “attentive” to the issues he raised. These issues included the Iranian nuclear deal, Israel’s opposition to Iran’s attempts to establish itself in Syria, and regional issues such as Hezbollah, the Kurds in Iraq, and the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.
Reuters contributed to this report.