LONDON, TEHRAN: Iran has no plans to extend the range of its missiles since their 2,000-km reach is enough to protect the country, the Revolutionary Guards commander said on Tuesday, amid mounting US pressure over Tehran’s missile program.
The Guard also criticized Iranian activists who signed an open letter last week asking Iran’s leaders to take part in direct talks with Washington, saying they have “sided with the US, the enemy of the people.”
The website of the Guard on Tuesday quoted Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying “their recent action is a 100-signature letter asking for talks with Trump. They have accompanied the US, the enemy of the people.”
“Possibly some of them were assigned” to sign the letter, he said, without offering evidence.
On Sunday, Iranian media reported that 100 Iranian activists, mostly foreign-based, wrote an open letter in which they asked Iranian leaders to hold “direct and unconditional talks” with the US to solve its differences with Washington.
No plans to increase missile range
Iran’s government ruled out negotiations with US President Donald Trump over Tehran’s military capabilities and regional influence, saying that such talks would be against the values of the Islamic Republic.
Trump withdrew the US last month from the 2015 accord between Iran and world powers that curbed Tehran’s nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.
He said the deal was deeply flawed as it had not curbed Iran’s ballistic missile program or reined in its support for proxies in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and said Washington would reimpose tough sanctions on Tehran.
“We have the scientific ability to increase our missile range but it is not our current policy since most of the enemies’ strategic targets are already within this 2,000-km range. This range is enough to protect the Islamic Republic...,” Jafari was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
Jafari said on Tuesday previous negotiations with the United States about Iran’s nuclear program were “an exception,” and called Iranian politicians and activists who have favored fresh talks with Trump as “traitors and anti-revolutionaries.”
On Saturday, over 100 activists associated with the moderate and reformist camps in Iranian politics welcomed Trump’s deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un envisaging a complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
In a statement published by Iranian media, the activists urged Tehran to start direct negotiations with Washington “with no preconditions” to resolve decades of enmity between the two countries dating to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Jafari rejected their call. “The North Korean leader was a revolutionary but a communist, not an Islamic one. That is why he surrendered, but we will not do the same,” he was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying.
Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht echoed Jafari’s remarks. “There are no grounds or logic to talk to such a person (Trump). Public opinion would not welcome that either,” Nobakht was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.
Jafari said previously that the range of Iran’s ballistic missiles was based on limits set by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who commands the armed forces.