Amid ongoing US and Israeli attempts to portray Iran as an “aggressive” party, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reaffirms that the Islamic Republic’s missiles are a mere means of defending the nation against enemy threats.
“Missiles are our defensive means,” he told the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet in an interview aired on Monday, adding, “We’re a sovereign state. [The projectiles are] for our defense and for being ready to defend ourselves.”
Late last month, Washington’s UN envoy Nikki Haley slammed a missile test by Iran as “absolutely unacceptable.” US President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn also said following the January 29 test that Washington was “officially putting Iran on notice,” claiming that the launch was “in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.”
The Islamic Republic has, on numerous occasions, asserted that its missiles are not designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and that it is not involved in such missile work, which is prohibited by the Resolution.
The US, however, also imposed new sanctions against Iran in early February as part of bids to ratchet up pressure on the country, chiefly over Tehran’s missile program.
Further supporting Iran’s defensive work, Zarif recalled the foreign-backed war imposed on Iran by the former Iraqi regime in 1980s, “when everybody in the international system, including the United States” was backing the Arab country under former dictator Saddam Hussein against the Islamic Republic.
“Our people do not forget the fact that they were being bombarded. Everybody was providing assistance to the aggressor and no one, absolutely no one, gave us even the rudimentary means of defense,” he added.
‘Iran not an easy target’
The Iranian top diplomat was then asked for comments on the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia’s threats of military action against the Islamic Republic.
“First of all, we’re not talking about the law of the jungle. We’re talking about the international law, and according to international law, those options are a violation of international law, and I advise them not only to respect the international law, but to be prudent enough not to get themselves in serious trouble,” he stated.
“I certainly hope that prudence will prevail because Iran is not an easy target. We’re not going to provoke anybody. We’re not going to instigate any hostility. We’ve never started hostility, and we’re not planning to do it,” said Zarif.
He added, however, that “we will defend ourselves. I do not believe that people looking at our history, people looking at our capabilities will ever make the decision to engage in that misadventure.”
Iran deal ‘Washington’s last resort’
Elsewhere, Zarif addressed the issue of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six world countries, including the US, saying Washington opted to sign the accord “because it didn’t have any choice.”
The US, he said, had already exhausted the means of applying pressure on the Islamic Republic, including sanctions.
“Those sanctions produced the exact opposite political outcome. They put economic pressure on Iran, but the Iranian people resisted. The Iranian people stood up against those pressures,” said the top Iranian diplomat.
He described the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as a “reasonable agreement,” saying it “is not everything that they wanted, nor was it everything we wanted. But it’s a reasonable middle ground, and I believe if the previous administration had other options, it would have exercised them.”
- Iran unmoved by US threats: FM
- Iran responds to US actions by boosting missile power: Zarif
- Iran missile tests no JCPOA breach: Zarif
Trump has adopted a harsh language towards Iran, threatening to “tear up” the nuclear deal, calling Iran “terrorist state number one,” and imposing new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
‘US never been friendly’
He also dismissed the idea that the new US administration’s attitude towards Tehran was a major departure from its predecessors, saying Washington’s hostile approach towards the Islamic Republic has remained unchanged over the
“So, it’s not as if we’re moving from very friendly relations into hostile relations. The United States policy towards Iran has never been friendly for the past 38 years. It has always been hostile, and our people have shown that hostility doesn’t receive a positive response from the Iranian people.”
The Iranian capital, Tehran, is set to host a two-day international conference on Palestine in a show of solidarity with the oppressed nation in the face of Israel occupation and atrocities.
The 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada (uprising) will open in Tehran on Tuesday, with 80 delegations from around the world expected to be in attendance.
Around 700 foreign guests and representatives of the pro-Palestinian organizations are slated to take part in the event.
Among other participants are senior Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, according to Lawmaker Kazem Jalali, the spokesman of the conference.
Jalali said the conference will be held at a time when the Zionist regime is waging proxy wars in the region in an attempt to distract the Muslim world from the Palestinian cause.
In an interview with Al Mayadeen news channel, Abbas Zaki, a senior member of the Palestinian Fatah movement, praised the upcoming forum in Tehran as a “real victory for the Palestinian nation.”
The official also criticized the Arab governments for their failure in dealing the Israeli regime’s occupation of Palestinian lands.
He said the Arab leaders are under the influence of the United States, which is using the regime in Tel Aviv as a “tool” to pursue its own hostile agenda in the Middle East region.
The conference will be held in Tehran amid ongoing tensions between Palestinians and the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank.
Around 280 Palestinians have so far been killed by Israeli forces since October 2015.
The tensions are viewed as the third intifada against Israel. The first intifada took place between 1987 and 1993, and the second one in the 2000s.
Before arriving on an unannounced visit to Baghdad, US Defense Secretary James Mattis has said Americans are “not in Iraq to seize” its oil.
His comments, made on Monday while traveling towards Iraq, appeared to be an attempt to distance him from the recent remarks by President Donald Trump regarding Iraq and its oil.
In a speech to CIA staff on January 21, Trump said about Iraq, “We should have kept the oil. But okay. Maybe you’ll have another chance.”
A few days later in an interview with ABC’s David Muir, the president repeated the comments, “We should have taken the oil. You wouldn’t have ISIS (Daesh) if we took the oil.”
According to experts, stealing oil from civilians is a war crime, and a violation of international law.
Mattis, on his first trip to Iraq the new US defense secretary, appeared to be ruling out any American plans to capture Iraqi oil.
“All of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along and I’m sure that we will continue to do so in the future. We’re not in Iraq to seize anyone’s oil,” Mattis, a retired four-star general, told reporters traveling with him.
The Pentagon chief said that he was heading to Iraq “because I need to get current on the situation there, the political situation, the enemy situation and the friendly situation.”
In early 2003, the United States, backed by the UK, invaded Iraq under the pretext that the regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons, however, were ever found in Iraq.
More than one million Iraqis were killed as a result of the invasion, and subsequent occupation of the country, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.
During his election campaign, Trump called the 2003 Iraq invasion “a big fat mistake,” and blamed the rise of Daesh (ISIL) terrorists in the Middle East on the policies of former US President George W. Bush and his successor, Barack Obama.
“George Bush made a mistake,” said during a CBS Republican primary debate in Greenville, South Carolina on February 13, 2016. “We all make mistakes. But that one was a beauty… They lied! They said there were weapons of mass destruction. And there were none.”
But in his more recent statements, Trump changed the tone regarding Iraq, arguing that the United States should have seized Iraqi oil in order to prevent Daesh from making money from oil sales.