Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that missiles, rather than negotiation, are the key to Iran’s future.
Although Khamenei threw his support behind the nuclear deal signed in 2015, he has publicly spoken out against any increased cooperation with western countries. Instead of negotiation, Khamenei said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps should continue developing ballistic missiles, Reuters reports.
“Those who say the future is in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors,” Khamenei said.
“If the Islamic Republic seeks negotiations but has no defensive power, it would have to back down against threats from any weak country,” Khamenei added.
The IRGC has insisted its test of ballistic missiles violates no agreements and especially not the U.N. Security Council Resolution that stipulates Iran cannot conduct nuclear tests.
The IRGC, of course, has said the missiles are not nuclear-tipped.
Russia has also come out in support of the Iranian side. Mikhail Ulyanov, the top official of the Department for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Weapons Control, told Interfax, “We do not think these launches violate Resolution 2231, because the resolution does not ban the tests.”
Ulyanov testified that the missiles are simply not capable of “carrying nuclear warheads.”
The Obama administration, perhaps eager to see the nuclear deal through, has stated the tests do not violate a July 2015 deal to restrict the development of Iran’s nuclear program, but a new letter written by the United States and European allies alleges the missiles are, in fact, capable of carrying nuclear warheads and so the tests do violate Resolution 2231, even if they don’t contravene the nuclear agreement.
The letter called on the U.N. Security Council to decide on “appropriate responses,” i.e. additional sanctions. But U.N. sanctions seem unlikely at this point because of legitimate disputes over the unclear wording of Resolution 2231.
Earlier this month, the IRGC tested two missiles designed to reach Israel.
In the meantime, the IRGC is continuing to develop its covert ballistic missile program. Iran already has the largest collection of ballistic missiles in the Middle East.
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