Iran open to talks over its ballistic missile program
Iran has suggested to six world powers that it may be open to talks about its ballistic missile arsenal, seeking to reduce tension over the disputed program, Iranian and Western officials familiar with the overtures told, APA reports quoting Reuters.
Tehran has repeatedly vowed to continue building up what it calls defensive missile capability in defiance of Western criticism, with Washington saying the Islamic Republic’s stance violates its 2015 nuclear deal with the powers.
But the sources said that given U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to ditch the deal reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, Tehran had approached the powers recently about possible talks on some “dimensions” of its missile program.
“During their meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly last month, Iran told members of the (world powers) that it could discuss the missile program to remove concerns,”
an Iranian source with knowledge of the meeting told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
U.S. and Western officials did not confirm the matter was discussed at the Zarif-Tillerson meeting. But two U.S. officials said Iran had recently been “keeping it alive” by feeding certain media reports and via third parties such as Oman.
A former U.S. Defense Department official said Iran’s overtures had reached Washington in recent weeks.
“Iran has put feelers out saying it is willing to discuss its ballistic missile program and is using contacts ... - officials who were ‘holdovers’ from the Obama administration,” the former official said.
Iran’s reported approach came after Trump called the nuclear accord “an embarrassment” and “the worst deal ever negotiated”. He is expected to announce soon that he will decertify the deal, a senior administration official said on Thursday.
Such a step could unravel the breakthrough agreement - seen by supporters as crucial to forestalling a Middle East arms race and tamping down regional tensions since it limits Iran’s ability to enrich uranium in exchange for sanctions relief.
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