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Iran Denies Past Negotiations Over Its Missile Program


From left, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pose for a photo in Brussels on May 5, 2018.

Tehran has denied it took part in negotiations over possible limitations on its missile program, prior to the U.S. withdrawal in May 2018 from the Iran nuclear agreement .

Earlier, the French ambassador to the U.S., Gerard Araud, had asserted that before Washington's withdrawal, there were talks underway to reach an agreement over Tehran's missile program, and adding it as a supplement to the JCPOA, or the nuclear agreement.

"The Islamic Republic has never been a party to such talks, and whatever said on the subject is pure imagination of other parties," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told the state-run Young Journalists Club (YJC) on Saturday.

At the end of his nearly five-year tenure in Washington on April 19, Araud told the Atlantic magazine that some of the U.S. President Donald Trump's decisions, including his withdrawal from JCPOA and the Paris Agreement (on climate change), had surprised him.

"We were negotiating with the administration on an agreement to complement the Iran deal, on missiles, terrorism, and Iran’s regional activities. And we were close to an agreement," Araud said, adding, "There was absolutely no crisis in the negotiation. And suddenly overnight, everything was over. It was decided overnight; it was decided by Trump. Nobody was warned, and the day after, nobody was able to tell us what it meant for us.”

While Araud insists that "people" told him that the final deal with Iran was 90 percent close, he does not explicitly mention the other parties to the talks.

Iranian authorities have repeatedly insisted that Tehran's missile program is "absolutely non-negotiable" and have prohibited officials from negotiating about it.

Nevertheless, a veteran lawmaker in Iran recently claimed that President Hassan Rouhani's administration has indeed negotiated over the missile program with France.

The official news website of Iranian Parliament (Majles) on April 4 quoted Javad Karimi Qoddousi (Ghoddusi), an outspoken conservative lawmaker, as having said that the Rouhani administration has negotiated with France over Iran's missile capabilities.

Qoddousi, who is known for making controversial claims that are often refuted, also said that "a recording of the negotiations is available."

Reacting to the Foreign Ministry's denial of his similar claims in the past, Qoddousi said: "I told Mr. Zarif that there is a recording of the negotiations," and then he quoted Zarif as having accepted his claims to be true but insisting that “we do not negotiate, we talk."

Qoddousi reiterated, "Mr. Zarif and I have a difference on keywords: Talks and negotiations."

Recently, France, Germany, and the U.K. sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, calling on him to present a full report on Iran's recent missile activities, including attempts to launch a satellite and displaying its ballistic missiles.

Moreover, on March 29, 2016, the United States, the UK, France, and Germany wrote a joint letter to Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon accusing Iran of "defying" Security Council Resolution 2231 through missile tests conducted since the deal. The letter said the missiles were "inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons." However, the letter stopped short of saying the tests were illegal. Annex B of Resolution 2231 calls for Iran to refrain from activity related to nuclear-capable missiles.

"Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology" Annex B, asserts but according to diplomats the language is not legally binding and cannot be enforced with punitive measures.

Iran has repeatedly insisted that its missiles are designed exclusively for defensive purposes and none of them are nuclear-capable.

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