In Rejecting Missile Talks, Tehran Creates Test for U.S. Diplomacy

The Associated Press on Wednesday conveyed remarks from Iran’s defense minister doubling down on a long-standing Iranian red line ruling out any discussions of the country’s ballistic missile program in the context of ongoing nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 global powers and Tehran:

Gen. Hossein Dehghan’s remarks rebuffed recent comments by U.S. State Department’s nuclear negotiator, Wendy Sherman, who said Iran’s ballistic capabilities should be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement with Iran.

The semiofficial Fars news agency on Wednesday quoted Dehghan as saying Iran’s missile program has “nothing to do” with the nuclear negotiations.

Pushed on the controversy by senators in February, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman assured lawmakers that the program would be addressed in any comprehensive deal signed between the parties.

Dehghan’s assertion – which has been consistently underlined by top Iranian diplomats for months – is, in a strict sense, false. Multiple binding United Nations Security Council resolutions link Iran’s ballistic missile program to its nuclear activities, and UNSC Resolution 1929 has language deciding that “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.”

The Iranian posture may prove to be politically as well as substantively problematic for the Obama administration. The interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) with Iran – providing Tehran with billions in sanctions relief – did not place any restrictions on the country’s ballistic missile program.

[Photo: Persian-boy / YouTube]