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Zarif: Iran Rejects Outside Control Of Its Missile Program

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures as he attends the Valdai Discussion Club's Middle East Conference in Moscow on February 19.

Tehran will not place its missile program under international control, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on February 19 in Moscow.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers unless it is changed to clearly prohibit ballistic missile development, among other changes he is seeking.

"Why should we do that?" Zarif said when he was asked whether Iran was ready to accept outside monitoring of its missile program.

The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for an easing of international sanctions.

"The U.S. president has big ambitions, but they will never come true," said Zarif, who was in Moscow for a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club -- a gathering of Russian and international foreign policy experts -- on the Middle East.

During the meeting, Zarif also criticized U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish forces who oppose President Bashar al-Assad's government, accusing Washington of "short-sighted" moves in what he called "geopolitical or geo-economic games."

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax