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Iran Says Missile Program Not Negotiable

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (file photo)

Iran's foreign minister says Tehran will not negotiate with the United States over its missile program.

The missile program and "defense capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are not negotiable," said Mohammad Javad Zarif on April 10 after meeting with his Estonian counterpart Marina Kaljurand.

Zarif said the nuclear agreement that was reached between Iran and the United States and other major world powers does not include Tehran's missile program, which Tehran says is only for defense purposes.

Under the nuclear accord reached last year, Iran has significantly limited its sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.

Zarif also said that, if Washington was serious about defensive issues in the Middle East, it should stop providing Israel and Saudi Arabia with arms.

Zarif was reacting to last week's comments by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who said the United States is open to a "new arrangement" with Iran for peacefully resolving disputes over its missile tests.

Kerry said on April 7 that the United States and its allies have told Iran that they are "prepared to work on a new arrangement to find a peaceful solution to these issues."

But he said Iran first had to "make it clear to everybody that they are prepared to cease these kinds of activities that raise questions about credibility and questions about intentions."

Zarif accused the U.S. of raising "baseless and and threadbare" accusations against Iran while claiming that some of the U.S. allies in the region were supporting the extremist group Islamic State (IS).

"Kerry should ask U.S. allies who provides [IS] with weapons, who buys the oil and looted antiques of Iraq and Syria from this terrorist group,"Zarif was quoted as saying byIran's government news agency IRNA.

Based on reporting by AP and IRNA