Monday, July 11, 2016

Defiant Iran vows to press on with missile program - Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

by Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman rejects German Chancellor Angela Merkel's criticism of Iranian missile program • German intelligence report: Iranian efforts to illegally procure technology, especially in nuclear area, continued at a high level in 2015.

Iran will press on with its missile program "with full force," an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying on Saturday, adding that critical comments by Germany's leader were unhelpful.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German parliament in Berlin on Thursday that missile launches by Iran earlier this year were inconsistent with a U.N. resolution urging it to refrain for up to eight years from missile work designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Merkel's remarks were "not constructive" and would have no bearing on the program, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

Reiterating Iran's assertion that the missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons, Qasemi added: "Iran will continue with full force its missile program based on its defensive plans and national security calculations."

On Friday, Iran rejected as "unrealistic" a report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticizing its missile launches as inconsistent with its deal with world powers to curb sensitive nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.

Reuters reported on Thursday that a confidential report by Ban had found the tests to be inconsistent "with the constructive spirit" of the July 2015 agreement.

Responding to German intelligence reports that Iran has been trying to acquire nuclear technology in Germany, Berlin said on Friday that certain forces in Iran may be trying to undermine the nuclear deal.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency said in its annual report that Iranian efforts to illegally procure technology, especially in the nuclear area, had continued at a "high level" in 2015.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, criticized the comments by Ban and Merkel and denied Iran had been trying to purchase nuclear technology on the black market.

"I feel they are cooking up a plot against us. We should be vigilant," he was quoted as saying by Iran's Tasnim News Agency.

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff


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