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Rohani Vows Iran Will Push Ahead With Missile Program


Iranian President Hassan Rohani has said that Tehran will continue its missile program and boost the country's military capacities, despite U.S. President Donald Trump's demand that Iran stop developing "dangerous missiles."

"We will increase our military power as a deterrent. We will strengthen our missile capabilities," Rohani said on September 22 during a military parade featuring what Iranian news agencies said was a new ballistic missile capable of reaching much of the Middle East, including Israel.

The Tasnim news agency, quoting the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps aerospace division, said the missile had a range of 2,000 kilometers. Meanwhile, Iranian state television showed the "Khoramshahr missile" being launched at an undisclosed time and location.

"We will not seek permission from anyone to defend our country," Rohani said in a speech that was broadcast live on state television.

On September 19, in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Trump accused Iran of supporting terrorists and called Tehran's government a "corrupt dictatorship."

Trump also called for a harder line against Iran from other members of the United Nations, saying that "we cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles."

Referring to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers, including the United States, Trump said Washington "cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program."

Rohani responded to Trump remarks in his own speech to the UN General Assembly on September 20, saying Trump's speech was "ignorant, absurd, and hateful rhetoric."

Rohani said Iran will not be the first party in the nuclear accord to violate the agreement.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Trump had made a final decision to continue complying with the Iran nuclear deal, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Trump's administration has twice certified that Iran is complying with its obligations under the accord.

But it has also said that Iran's missile program violates the spirit of the nuclear agreement.

Washington is due to announce on October 15 whether it considers Iran to still be complying with the agreement.

Other signatories to the nuclear accord are Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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