DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran rejected French calls for wider international talks over its nuclear and military ambitions, saying on Friday it would only discuss its existing 2015 atomic pact with world powers, state TV reported.
French President Emmanuel Macron had said a day earlier that Paris and Washington both wanted to stop Tehran getting nuclear arms and new talks should focus on curbing its ballistic missiles program and on other issues.
But Iran’s foreign ministry said it would not hold any discussions beyond the 2015 pact which U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned last year as he pressed for tougher restrictions.
“Under this circumstances, talking about issues beyond the deal ... will lead to further mistrust among the remaining signatories of the deal,” foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement.
The United States pulled out of the 2015 agreement - under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief- saying it did was not permanent and did not do enough to control Iran’s missiles and regional influence.
In 2017, Iran rejected Macron’s call for talks on Tehran’s ballistic missiles, saying they were purely defensive, arguing that U.N. Security Council resolution 2231 that enshrined Iran’s nuclear deal with six powers “does not prohibit missile program and missile tests by Iran.”
“a. UNSC 2231: “Iran is CALLED UPON” not prohibited; b. “Not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles DESIGNED to be capable of delivering NUCLEAR weapons. Our missiles are not “designed” for nukes, which we’re not developing,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Friday.
France and other European signatories to the deal have said they wanted to save it, but many of their companies have canceled deals with Tehran, under financial pressure from the United States.
“The Europeans have so far failed to fulfill their commitments under the deal and ... to protect Iran’s interests after America’s illegal withdrawal,” Mousavi added in his statement, according to state TV.
Trump said on Thursday that Iran was failing as a nation, under the pressure of his sanctions, and repeated his call for talks with the leadership in Tehran.
Mousavi dismissed Trump’s comments as “repetitive, groundless and paradoxical” and said they did not merit a response.
Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has dismissed Washington’s call for negotiations. However, Iran’s pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani has signaled Iran’s willingness to hold talks if the U.S. showed its respect and returned to the nuclear accord.
A senior commander of Iran’s elite revolutionary Guards repeated the country’s official stance by saying that Tehran “is not seeking war” with the United States but warned that it will respond “decisively” to any aggression.
“Iran enjoys the best military forces ... any war against Iran would not stop at Iran’s borders and it would engulf the entire region,” Iran’s state news agency IRNA quoted Brigadier General Morteza Ghorbani as saying on Friday.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Andrew Heavens, William Maclean