Iranian General: French Comments on Tehran Missiles 'Forbidden'

French Foreign Minister Arrives in Tehran Amid Row Over Ballistic Missile Program

ANALYSIS: How Iran deal aided the regime's bid for hegemonic control

Stressing Iran's peaceful relations with all its neighboring countries, Velayati said, "If the French foreign minister's visit is aimed at strengthening relations, he'd better avoid taking such negative positions".

For his part, the Iranian foreign minister praised France and other European sides' principled stance towards the JCPOA but at the same time criticized some European officials for their remarks about and behaviours towards the nuclear deal and also being swayed by the U.S. when it comes to the JCPOA.

A US exit could kill the agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Tehran has refused to renegotiate.

Iran's ballistic missile program poses no threat to any country and is purely defensive, an ally of Iran's supreme leader told France's foreign minister during a meeting in Tehran, according to the Students News Agency ISNA.

If Kamalvandi's claims are accurate, Iran's nuclear program could be up and running nearly immediately if the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) fails.

After his talks, he was due to inaugurate a new exhibition with works from the Louvre Museum in Tehran.

Zarif countered that Europe needed to "play a more constructive role to preserve" the nuclear deal.

France increasingly has criticized Iran's ballistic missile program since the deal.

While France says Iran is sticking to the terms of the nuclear deal, it may not be respecting part of United Nations resolution 2231 that calls on it to refrain from work on ballistic missiles created to carry nuclear warheads.

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"Iran is an independent country and can defend itself in any way it sees fit whether with missiles or any other defensive means", Velayati told reporters in Tehran.

Le Drian also met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said on Saturday that the Islamic Republic would hold no negotiations over its missile program unless the United States and Europe dismantle their nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

The French president called for Iran to put "the necessary pressure" on its Syrian ally, President Bashar al-Assad, to stop "indiscriminate" attacks on civilians.

France is one of the biggest arms exporters to Saudi Arabia, which has been leading a military coalition backing the internationally recognized Yemeni government against the Iran-led Shi'ite Huthi rebels and their allies since 2015.

Weapons programs and Syria aside, Paris and Tehran have growing economic interests, and Le Drian is likely to engage Iranian officials in business discussions.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday voiced his support for the 2015 nuclear deal which limited Iran's nuclear activities in returns for the lift of western sanctions against Tehran.

Le Drian had been scheduled to visit Tehran earlier but postponed his trip after protests across Iran in late December and early January that saw at least 21 people killed.

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