The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said the Islamic Republic will not negotiate with Western powers to amend the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers in 2015. “America’s latest measures to undermine the JCPOA are illegal. There is no possibility to renegotiate this complete and infrangible document under any circumstances,” Ali Shamkhani said in an exclusive interview with state-run Al-Alam TV. The senior advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei particularly ruled out any talks over the country’s controversial missile program and emphasized that Iran will continue to further develop its missile power for defense and deterrence purposes. “Based on the unanimous consensus of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s officials, we will not hold any negotiations regarding our missile and defensive power with any country,” he added. He expressed the hope that European countries will not side with Washington’s Iran policy.
Separately, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, the spokesman for the Rouhani government, also rejected reports that Tehran has held missile talks with European countries. “No one is permitted to interfere in our defense and missile issue. We consider our defense and missile power our legitimate right. And have not and will not hold have dialogue with anyone with regard to the defense issue,” he told reporters at a meeting convened by the Iranian Parliament.
Comment: The Iranian officials’ remarks come as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been holding talks with European leaders to get their support to address Iran’s missile program and malign activities in the region. President Donald Trump earlier this month said he will terminate the JCPOA unless US Congress and European powers come up with solutions to fix its loopholes – primarily Iran’s missile activities and regional roles as well as sunset provisions within the deal according to which certain restrictions on Iran expire in a decade.
After meeting British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday, Tillerson said they agreed to form a working group of experts to explore ways of fixing the shortcomings of the deal.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is slated to visit Tehran in early March to discuss Iran’s missile program and regional activities, particularly its support for Lebanese Hezbollah.