Iran vows to develop missile program amid pressures

Updated: 2016-01-02 10:46


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TEHRAN -- Iran will not slow down the pace of developing its missile program, despite the US pressures, the defense minister said Friday.

"We will vigorously press ahead with the development of missile capabilities within the framework of the country's defense policies," Brigadier Gen. Hossein Dehqan was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

"There has been no interruption in the process of designing and manufacturing defensive ballistic missiles," Dehqan said, adding that the Iranian armed forces will employ all indigenous potential and equipment to strengthen the country's defense power, regardless of what foreigners say or do.

The deputy commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Brigadier Gen. Hossein Salami, also reiterated Friday that Iran will not hesitate a moment to develop its deterrent power against the threats posed by hegemonic powers.

The remarks by Iranian military officials followed Thursday's letter from President Hassan Rouhani to proceed with the country's missile program "with high speed and seriously" and expand Iran's missile capabilities in response to the US considered sanctions.

Rouhani's remarks were a response to the US Treasury Department's recent announcement that it was considering sanctions against a number of Iranian and international individuals and agencies for their alleged involvement in developing Iran's ballistic missile program.

"It is necessary to follow, more seriously and with high speed, the production of different kinds of missiles within the framework of the defensive policies," Rouhani said.

The Defense Ministry is obliged to expand the missile capabilities of Iran, in case the United States insists on its "false and interfering measures," Rouhani said.

During the past nuclear talks, Iran emphasized that it will never negotiate over its deterrent power, including its missile program, and will never accept any restrictions in this regard.

The new US move to add individuals and companies to the sanction list is a response to Iran's recent test of a ballistic missile.

In October, Iran announced the tests of long-range Emad missile which could be guided and controlled until hitting the target with high precision.

A UN experts' report in December said that Iran violated UN Security Council Resolution 1929 by test-firing the Emad missile which is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

The UN report said that the Emad ballistic missile has a range of "no less than 1,000 km with a payload of at least 1,000 kg."

Under Resolution 1929, Iran is prohibited from working on ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

Later, Dehqan said the Emad missile was "totally conventional," dismissing a UN experts' report in December that Iran violated the UN Security Council Resolution 1929 by test-firing the Emad missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

Dehqan also said the October test was based on Iran's own interests for enhancement of its deterrent power. "Iran will not accept any restrictions in this regard."

Tehran is believed to have the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East and has developed a 2,000 km missile.

Iran and six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- signed a historic nuclear deal in July to imposes limits on the Iranian nuclear program in return for lifting of economic sanctions.

Under the deal, Iran will also receive natural uranium from Russia and Kazakhstan to be used in nuclear reactors for future energy production.

Earlier, a total of 11 tons of low-enriched uranium has been shipped to Russia from Iran while Norway has helped verify a shipment of 60 tons of raw uranium to Iran, as part of the nuclear deal.

Also this month, after a 12-year investigation of Iran's suspected nuclear plans, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided to close the process in light of the nuclear deal.

Board members of the United Nations nuclear agency adopted a resolution to close the investigation into whether Tehran once had a nuclear weapons program, upon a review of Iran's implementation of its commitments.