Iranian leaders are urging European powers not to side with Washington to pressure the Islamic Republic to curb its controversial missile program and moderate its policies and actions in the region. As representatives from Iran and other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal are set to meet in Vienna on Wednesday to discuss the implementation of the accord – also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs who will be representing Iran in the meeting, ruled out any negotiations over the country’s missile activities with world powers. “We will not allow under any circumstances that they discuss and negotiate over our defense power, particularly our country’s missile capabilities.”
Several other Iranian officials have recently echoed a similar view. “It is Iran’s permanent policy not to negotiate over its missile power,” said Alauddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee. “Iran under no circumstances will allow other countries, including America, to interfere in the country’s missile program,” he added.
The chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) also recently rejected a proposal by French President Emmanuel Macron to supplement the Iran nuclear deal with new provisions that would address the Islamic Republic’s controversial missile program and destabilizing role in the region. “We attribute the suggestion for missile negotiation by French officials to the young age of the French president. This is because of their immaturity and they will soon realize that their efforts are futile… Our missile power is non-negotiable and the Iranian people will also not permit this,” said Major General Ali Jafari.
Comment: Since President Donald Trump took office in January and threatened to terminate the nuclear accord, Iranian leaders have been banking on European support to “isolate” the United States to keep the nuclear agreement alive and minimize the impact of U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran. But the French president’s tough rhetoric against Iran’s ballistic missile and regional role has worried Tehran. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s also said recently that Iran should clarify its “uncontrolled” ballistic missile strategy. During a press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel Jubeir, the top French diplomat added that “Iran’s role and the different areas where this country operates worries us.” He continued: “I am thinking in particular of Iran’s interventions in regional crises, this hegemonic temptation and I’m thinking of its ballistic program.”
In an explicit threat to Europe, the I.R.G.C. has also threatened to put Europe within Iran’s missile range if European powers cooperated with Washington against Tehran. “If we have kept the range of our missiles up to 2,000 kilometers and have not increased it, it is not because of technological limitations. This is because we have a strategic doctrine for the range of our missiles,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the deputy I.R.G.C. commander, said in a television interview. “Therefore, the Europeans should know that if they threaten us, we will increase the range of our missiles,” he added, according to I.R.G.C.-affiliated Tasnim News Agency.
While the nuclear agreement does not address Iran’s missile program, the subsequent U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 “calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” Iranian leaders argue that the country’s missiles are not designed to carry nuclear warheads, but U.S. officials say some of the missiles Iran has tested after the 2015 nuclear deal have been "inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons" and are "in defiance of" the U.N. resolution.