Defying U.S., Rouhani Says Iran Will Continue to Produce Missiles

DUBAI (Reuters) —
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iran will continue to produce missiles for its defense and does not see it as a violation of international accords, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday in a speech broadcast on state media.

“We have built, are building and will continue to build missiles, and this violates no international agreements,” Rouhani said in a speech in parliament.

Rouhani spoke days after the House of Representatives voted for new sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, part of an effort to clamp down on Tehran without immediately moving to undermine an international nuclear agreement.

“We will produce any weapons of any kind that we need and stockpile them and use them at any time to defend ourselves,” Rouhani said.

The United States has already imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a U.N. resolution, which calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and says it has no plans to build nuclear-capable missiles.

Rouhani also criticized the United States over President Donald Trump’s refusal earlier this month to formally certify that Tehran is complying with the 2015 accord on Iran’s nuclear program, even though international inspectors say it is.

“You are disregarding past negotiations and agreements approved by the U.N. Security council and expect others to negotiate with you?” Rouhani said.

“Because of the behavior it has adopted, America should forget any future talks and agreement with other countries,” Rouhani added, referring to unnamed countries in East Asia, an apparent reference to North Korea.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Saturday that he could not imagine the United States ever accepting a nuclear North Korea, and stressed during a week-long trip to Asia that diplomacy was America’s preferred course.

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