Khamanei: West’s calls to limit missiles ‘stupid’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prays during Friday prayers in Tehran. (File photo: Reuters)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described on Sunday that Western expectations for the Islamic Republic to limit its missile program were “stupid and idiotic,” Reuters reported.

Khamanei also urged the country’s Revolutionary Guards to mass-produce missiles.

The United States and its allies have long expressed concerns that Iran’s missile program could carry nuclear warheads despite Tehran rejecting such claims saying it had no plans to develop atomic weapons.

“They expect us to limit our missile program while they constantly threaten Iran with military action. So this is a stupid, idiotic expectation,” Reuters quoted Khamenei as telling the IRNA news agency while on a visit to an aeronautics fair by the Revolutionary Guards.

He added: “The revolutionary guards should definitely carry out their program and not be satisfied with the present level. They should mass produce. This is a main duty of all military officials.”

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said on Sunday his country has nothing to offer except transparency in nuclear talks with world power.

Rowhani said Iran does not seek to produce nuclear weapons, in remarks made during a speech aired live on state television.

“We have nothing to put on the table and offer to them but transparency. That’s it. Our nuclear technology is not up for negotiation,” Rowhani said.

“Iran will not retreat one step in the field of nuclear technology... we will not accept nuclear apartheid,” he said.

Rowhani’s comments come ahead of a new round of talks between Iran and the world powers, which start Tuesday.

The self-declared moderate president has faced a battle from domestic critics of his diplomatic outreach since taking power last August.

Hardliners accuse Rowhani of making concessions for little gain under talks that have started to reverse the political isolation Iran grappled with under his hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

U.N., Iran to meet before deadline

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said it planned talks with Iran on Monday ahead of the scheduled deadline. On May 15, Iran has to implement a series of measures that could allay concern about its nuclear program.

In November, Iran agreed to cap its uranium enrichment in exchange for sanctions easing. It is now negotiating a final deal over its contested nuclear program.

News of the meeting came after diplomatic sources told Reuters on Friday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was seeking further clarification from Iran about one of those steps, concerning information about detonators that can help set off a nuclear device and Tehran is believed to have developed.

Iran said it has already implemented the seven steps agreed by the two sides - including access to two uranium sites - but the sources suggested the IAEA still wanted more information about the so-called Explosive Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators.

IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said in an email on Sunday that the meeting would take place in Vienna but gave no detail.

“IAEA and Iranian officials will meet ... for further discussions within the Framework for Cooperation,” she said, referring to a transparency pact reached in November on a step-by-step process to shed more light on Iran’s atomic activity.

In a confidential report seen by Reuters, a U.N. expert panel said that Iran’s attempts to illicitly procure materials for its disputed nuclear and missile programs appear to have slowed down as it pursues talks on a long-term accord with world powers.

However, the U.N. Panel of Experts, who monitor compliance with the Security Council’s sanctions regime on Iran, was vigilant when presented this conclusion. The panel suggested that it was also possible that Tehran has simply learned to outsmart security and intelligence services in its pursuit of sensitive components and materials.

[With Reuters, AFP and AP]

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43