Rouhani refuses to roll back missile program

President Hassan Rouhani said that’s building of missiles “violates no international agreements.” (Reuters)
Updated 29 October 2017

Rouhani refuses to roll back missile program

DUBAI/TEHRAN: Iran will continue to produce missiles for its defense and does not consider that a violation of international accords, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday in a speech broadcast on state television.
Rouhani spoke days after the US House of Representatives voted for new sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, part of an effort to clamp down on Tehran without immediately moving to undermine an international nuclear agreement.
“We have built, are building and will continue to build missiles, and this violates no international agreements,” Rouhani said in a speech in the Parliament.
“We will produce any weapons of any kind that we need and stockpile it and use it at any time to defend ourselves,” Rouhani said.
The US has already imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a UN resolution, which calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and says it has no plans to build nuclear-capable missiles.
Rouhani also criticized the US over President Donald Trump’s refusal earlier this month to formally certify that Tehran is complying with the 2015 accord on Iran’s nuclear program, even though international inspectors say it is.
“You are disregarding past negotiations and agreements approved by the UN Security Council and expect others to negotiate with you?” Rouhani said.
“Because of the behavior it has adopted, America should forget any future talks and agreement with other countries,” Rouhani added, referring to unnamed countries in East Asia, an apparent reference to North Korea.
In a related development, Rouhani has asked the UN nuclear chief to confirm it still adheres to the nuclear deal.
A statement Sunday from Iranian president’s office quoted him as telling Yukiya Amano that Iran’s adherence to the deal “has been complete and remarkable.”
Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), met with Iranian officials during his visit to Tehran.
The UN nuclear chief said Iran was carrying out its commitments made under the deal.
“As of today, I can state that the nuclear-related commitments made by Iran under the JCPOA (nuclear deal) are being implemented,” Amani said at a press conference in Tehran broadcast by state television.
“We hope that, given the full cooperation of Iran in recent years, the IAEA announces the final report on the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program as soon as possible,” Rouhani said.
“We should not allow the (nuclear deal), as an important achievement, to be undermined, and we must consolidate this important international commitment with full cooperation,” he added.
Iran struck the deal with world powers in 2015. It saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions. The West had put the sanctions in place over fears Iran’s nuclear program could be used to build an atomic bomb.
The EU, Britain and other parties in the deal have all encouraged Trump to keep the accord in place. However, Trump punted the issue to Congress, instructing lawmakers to toughen the law that governs US participation in the deal and calling on the other parties to the accord to fix a series of deficiencies.
If they cannot, Trump said he will likely pull the US out of the deal and reinstate previously lifted US sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, which could be a mortal blow to the agreement.
Rouhani’s Cabinet picks
Iran’s Parliament has approved two nominees by President Hassan Rouhani to head the ministries of energy and higher education.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said 225 of 276 lawmakers in attendance voted for Reza Ardakanian to serve as energy minister. Mansour Gholami secured 180 votes to serve as the minister of science, who is in charge of universities and higher education.
Though Iranian universities work under boards of trustees, hard-liners do not support reformists for the post of science minister who has influence in picking university chancellors.
With Sunday vote, Rouhani’s 18-minister Cabinet is now complete.


Pentagon chief urges Iraq to stop attacks on bases housing US forces

Updated 4 min 42 sec ago

Pentagon chief urges Iraq to stop attacks on bases housing US forces

  • A US military official warned last week that attacks by Iranian-backed groups on bases hosting US forces in Iraq were pushing all sides closer to an uncontrollable escalation
  • Tension between the United States and Iran has risen as a result of US sanctions that are hitting Tehran hard

BAGHDAD: US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Monday urged Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to take steps to prevent bases housing US troops from being shelled, a statement from the premier’s office said.

Esper’s call came after a senior US military official warned last week that attacks by Iranian-backed groups on bases hosting US forces in Iraq were pushing all sides closer to an uncontrollable escalation.

Rocket strikes targeting Iraqi bases where members of the US-led coalition are also stationed have increased in past weeks with no claim of responsibility from any party.

However, the US military official said intelligence and forensic analyzes of the rockets and launchers pointed to Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim militia groups.

Esper “expressed his concerns over the shelling of some installations and the necessity to take procedures to stop it,” a statement from Abdul Mahdi’s office quoted the Pentagon chief as saying during a phone call.

Abdul Mahdi warned Esper that unilateral action could have negative consequences that will be difficult to control and might jeopardize Iraq’s sovereignty.

Abdul Mahdi resigned last month under pressure from mass anti-government protests. He is carrying out his duties in a caretaker capacity.

Tension between the United States and Iran has risen as a result of US sanctions that are hitting Tehran hard. The two sides have also traded blame over attacks on oil installations, militia arms depots and bases hosting US forces.