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Iran, France Negotiating Over Missiles, Alleges Conservative Lawmaker

A long-range ballistic missile is launched in the Alborz mountain range in northern Iran, March 9, 2016

A veteran lawmaker in Iran says President Hassan Rouhani's Administration has negotiated the Islamic Republic missile program with France.

The official news website of Iranian Parliament (Majles) has 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.

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

One of the reasons behind President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers was its weakness in tackling the problem of the Islamic Republic's missile program.

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

Asked if President Hassan Rouhani's policies have reduced the threat of military action against Iran, Qoddousi said in the interview published on Thursday April 4 that "Rouhani's policies encourage more severe punishment."

"This is what soft logic does," said Qoddousi without explaining the nature of what he called soft logic, adding "When Foreign Minister Zarif said that the United States can destroy Iran's defense system with just one bomb, he was in fact encouraging others to punish Iran, and now the administration is negotiating with the French," regarding the missile program.

Javad Karimi Ghoddusi, Iranian conservative MP from Mashhad, undated.
Javad Karimi Ghoddusi, Iranian conservative MP from Mashhad, undated.

Tehran on January 28, categorically denied it was holding talks with France over its ballistic missile development after Paris said it was ready to impose more sanctions if European attempts to address the program in discussions with Tehran made no progress.

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 the he quoted Zarif as having said: "All of the news you have broken out are true, but we do not negotiate, we talk."

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

He also made other controversial comments accusing administration members of wrongdoings about the nuclear program and other matters, but although he was threatened with legal prosecution when his statements were proved wrong, every time he got away because of his alleged links with Khamenei's office.

France has repeatedly called on Iran to stop its ballistic missile program, insisting that these missiles can carry nuclear warheads. France also says that Iran's missile program undermines the stability of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, in another part of the interview, Qoddousi harshly attacked former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad naming him as "The man who created all the miseries of today," alleging that "Ahmadinejad betrayed voters by being influenced by liberals in his second term of office."

Like most Iranian hardliners including Khamenei and his close aides, Qoddousi supported Ahmadinejad in his first term in office as President, but distanced himself from the ultraconservative figure toward the end of his second term.