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Iran warns US against politicising defence programme

IANS | Tehran |

 Iran on Tuesday cautioned the US against politicising Tehran's legitimate efforts at reinforcing its defence capabilities.

"We hope that the issue of Iran's defence programme… does not turn into a pretext for political games," Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said at a joint press conference with visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Zarif referred to Iran's ballistic missile tests – which the country regularly undertakes to boost its defensive prowess – and said the issue of the tests "falls outside (the framework of the UN Security Council's) resolution."

The UN resolution was adopted on July 20, 2015 to endorse a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Under the resolution, Iran was "called upon" not to undertake any activity related to missiles "designed to be capable of" delivering nuclear weapons. Iran said it was not involved in any such missile work and has no such warheads.

Zarif said all the parties to the JCPOA, including both France and the previous US administration, have attested that Iran's missile tests have nothing to do with the nuclear agreement.

The resolution only points to the ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, he said, and added, "We have announced that none of our ballistic missiles are designed to carry nuclear warheads. Our missiles are for carrying conventional warfare and serve the purpose of Iran's legitimate defence, thus falling outside the purview of UN."

Over the past 250 years, Zarif said, Iran has never started any wars, and the country never turns its weapons against anyone but foreign aggressors.

He said that the Iranian people do not wait for anyone's permission to engage in defending themselves given their experience of the 1980-88 war imposed on Iran by Iraq and the toll international terrorism has exacted on the country.