France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian slammed Iran on Monday for not respecting part of a UN resolution that calls on Tehran to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.
Speaking on arrival at a European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, Le Drian also said the 28 ministers would reiterate their concerns over Iran’s “destabilizing” activities in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.
“We will also have the opportunity of underlining our firmness on Iran’s compliance with United Nations Resolution 2231, which limits access to ballistic capacity and which Iran does not respect,” Le Drian said.
Under the UN resolution enshrining the 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, Iran is “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to 8 years.
Some states say this phrasing does not make it an obligatory commitment.
Iran has repeatedly said its missile program is purely defensive and denied they are designed to carry nuclear warheads.
Le Drian on Sunday said he would visit Iran on March 5 to discuss its ballistic missile program and the nuclear deal agreed with world powers in 2015.
But Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman on Monday dismissed the suggestion of talks on either issue.
“If there is such a quote (from the French foreign minister) that we held talks, we deny it. We have not had any negotiations about our missile and defense capabilities and will not talk about these issues with others,” Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency on Monday.
With US President Donald Trump warning of a last chance for “the worst deal ever negotiated”, Britain, France and Germany have begun talks on a plan to satisfy him by addressing Iran’s ballistic missile tests and its regional influence while preserving the 2015 accord.
In an interview with daily Le Figaro to be published on Monday, Jean-Yves Le Drian said he would discuss the landmark nuclear deal after Trump’s January 12 ultimatum to Britain, France and Germany to “fix” the deal or he would withdraw.
“A country that goes back on its word devalues its word,” Le Drian said.
Tensions between Iran and France have risen in recent months with both sides repeatedly trading barbs in public, including le Drian accusing Iran of “hegemonic temptations” in the region.
Iranian officials have been particularly aggrieved by France’s criticism of its ballistic missile tests and suggestions of possible new sanctions over the program.
Iran has repeatedly said its missile program is purely defensive and dismisses Western assertions that its regional activities are destabilizing.
“If Iran wants to return to the concert of nations, it must cooperate on these questions,” said Le Drian, who postponed a trip to Tehran earlier this month because of demonstrations in the country.
“Otherwise, it will with reason always be suspected of wanting to develop nuclear weapons,” he added.