Iran - Visit by Mr Jean-Yves le Drian (5 March 2018)

Saul Bowman
March 8, 2018

Qassemi blasted attempts to link Iranian missiles to other issues, including the nuclear deal, saying Iran "will not [ask] permission from anyone on how to regulate these policies and will not allow any country to interfere in such issues and Iran's policies and will not hold talks on such cases".

Kamalvandi said from Iran's standpoint, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal signed in July 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 (five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus the European Union) could not be re-negotiated as is demanded by the United States.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi, quoted by IRNA, said that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif "has always met on the sidelines of such worldwide summits with attending personalities and elites ... in the framework of preserving Iranian interests".

His comments came against a backdrop of controversial comments by France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian about Iran's missile program ahead of his trip to Tehran early Monday.

After a day of tough talks with senior Iranian officials, who all repeated that Tehran would not bow to Western pressure to scrap its ballistic missile tests, Le Drian said there remained "much work to do" with Iran.

Tehran supports Mr Al Assad against rebels, including groups backed by the West, and backs Hezbollah in Lebanon. Fars news agency said a group of hardliners gathered at Tehran's International Mehrabad Airport to protest Le Drian's visit.

While French leaders, including President Emmanuel Macron, have criticised Iran's missile programme, French companies like oil giant Total SA have bullishly entered the Iranian market after the atomic accord, complicating any possible sanctions.

Despite their differences, Iran has welcomed French efforts to re-engage economically and politically. On the eve of Le Drian's visit, Macron told Rouhani by phone that France expects Iran to make a "constructive contribution" to solving crises in the region.

France has been quick to restore trade ties.

Le Drian has made it clear to Tehran that he is no "emissary of Donald Trump", the foreign minister's team have told AFP.

The Europeans may have their own criteria in this regard, but they should take into account that Iran will not be indifferent and will take appropriate measures, the head of the Iranian diplomacy warned.

Tehran denies seeking nuclear arms and says its missiles are purely defensive and not up for discussion.

Iran could produce higher enriched uranium within 48 hours if the US ditches the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers.

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