Iran defies EU demands about its missile program, destabilizing role in region

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Feb 15, 2018
Iran defies EU demands about its missile program, destabilizing role in region

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has rejected European power’s demand that Tehran limit its missile activities and moderate its regional behavior. Bahram Qassemi, the ministry’s spokesman, lashed out at French President Emmanuel Macron’s latest demand that Iran’s ballistic missile program be placed under international surveillance. The spokesman accused the French president of “bias” and reiterated that Tehran will not restrict its defense program, including missile activities. “The Islamic Republic will not allow others to attempt to downgrade the defense and deterrence power of peace-loving Iran, and at the same time equip regional countries with different lethal weapons.” 

Separately, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, also said that Tehran will give Macron a “negative response” if the French president calls for negotiations over Iran’s missile program during his upcoming visit to Tehran. "The Islamic Republic of Iran will not take permission from any country about its missile power and will develop its missile power appropriate to its defense needs," he added.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also rejected the German government’s earlier assertion that Iran was responsible for the latest escalation of tension with Israel in Syria. 

Comment: The latest statements from European countries regarding Iran’s missile program and regional policies have worried Tehran. When President Donald Trump threatened to terminate the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed new sanctions on Iran right after taking office a year ago, the Rouhani government counted on European support to withstand US pressure, keep the nuclear deal intact, and minimize the impact of new American sanctions. But although European powers continue to oppose the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the nuclear deal, they are increasingly cooperating with Washington to address Iran’s ballistic missile program and destabilizing regional role. The French foreign minister is scheduled to visit Tehran in early March to discuss the two key issues with the Rouhani government. President Macron may also travel to Tehran in the near future.

According to Israeli media, Germany, France and Britain this cautioned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani not to escalate tension with Israel through Iran’s proxy militia forces in Syria – prompting angry reactions in Tehran, which argues that it is not responsible for the latest escalation.

Thus, Tehran may be disappointed that its efforts to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe have not produced the desired results.