Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman has lashed out at the anti-Iran comments made by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian ahead of his visit to Tehran, Iran Front Page reports. Bahram Qassemi on Sunday referred to the top French diplomat’s comments on the threshold of his trip to Iran, saying:
“Long gone are the days of sanctions and threats.”
In an interview with the Persian-language Fars News Agency, Qassemi said Iran will tell the French official that Paris’ concerns about Iran’s Middle East policies are “illusory” and “wrong.”
“They should look for [the sources of] their worries on the region in the excessive demands and policies of aggression and in the capitals of some other countries in the region and beyond,” said Qassemi.
He also reacted to claims and unfounded comments made on some occasions by French officials against Iran and its role in the region. He said French officials should know that there are ill-wishers who wouldn’t like Tehran and Paris to have a balanced relationship.
“French authorities should pay attention more carefully to the complicated issues of West Asia and Iran as well as the existing realities and whatever has been going on recently in the region,” the spokesman underlined.
Qassemi also noted that France is well aware of Iran’s stabilizing role in the Middle East region.
“I believe French statesmen know that the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most important and most serious countries standing at the forefront of the war on terrorism, especially the ISIS terrorist group, over the recent years, and has made relentless and serious efforts in fighting terrorism and helping boost stability and security and safeguard the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of all regional countries,” he noted.
Qassemi also pointed to the meddlesome remarks by the foreign minister and other officials of France about Iran’s missile defense program. The spokesman said Iran needs to be able to defend itself against aggressors. He said Iran’s policy in the defense sector is based on deterrence and defense and only serves to secure the country’s territorial integrity, independence, and freedom.
“This policy and the missile issue are not against the regulations and resolutions of the UN Security Council,” he noted.
Qassemi reiterated that Iran will not seek anybody’s permission when it comes to its missile and defense policies and will press ahead with its policies in the missile and defense sectors.
Following the meddlesome stance adopted by France on Iran’s military and missile power, a senior official said the Islamic Republic’s defense program is none of foreigners’ business.
“Iran is an independent country and can defend itself in any way it sees fit whether with missiles or any other defensive means. Iran cannot remain indifferent to moves aimed at equipping neighboring countries with arms on a daily basis,” Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy advisor to the Leader of Islamic Revolution, told reporters in Tehran on Saturday, Press TV reported.
The remarks came after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on February 27 expressed deep concern over Iran’s ballistic missile program, saying it was necessary to avoid it becoming a factor that threatened Tehran’s neighbors.
“There is a risk, and everything possible needs to be done to avoid this risk and take the necessary measures so that this ballistic threat is not such for all regional actors,” Le Drian said in Moscow after talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
In reaction to the French foreign minister’s comments, Velayati said Iran has peaceful relations with all its neighboring countries.
“Defensive preparedness is among basic rights of every nation and no country can decide for us or other states … which type of missile we can possess.”
The senior official urged France not to make claims that it could not deliver on and expressed confidence that the Islamic Republic would not allow anyone to interfere in the type of defense equipment it can possess in the field of conventional weapons, whether missile or others.
“If the French foreign minister’s [upcoming] visit [to Tehran] is aimed at strengthening relations, he’d better avoid taking such negative positions,” Velayati pointed out.
The Iranians appeared less interested in thrashing out the issue with their soon-to-be guest, however, issuing a curt reminder to Le Drian ahead of his visit. Tehran has repeatedly stated that the country’s missile program is purely defensive, but says it would consider negotiations if the United States and its nuclear-armed allies first dismantled their weapons of mass destruction.
“The condition for negotiating Iran’s missiles is the destruction of the nuclear weapons and long-range missiles of the United States and Europe,” Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Masoud Jazayeri said on Saturday, as cited by state media.
In February, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated unequivocally that: “We will negotiate with no one on our weapons.” He added that Iran’s missiles “are defensive and are not designed to carry weapons of mass destruction since we don’t have any.”
France is a signatory of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, the historic agreement did not touch upon missile development, and efforts by the United States and its European allies to use the deal to force greater concessions from Tehran have greatly frustrated Iran.
“Now they ask Iran to enter discussions on other issues. Our answer is clear: Make the [deal] a successful experience and then we discuss other issues,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi said in February.
Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron said that a “mechanism of sanctions and control” should be developed to “monitor” Iran’s ballistic missile program.