Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that those who believe Iran’s future lies in negotiations and not missiles, are wrong, Reuters reported, citing his website. His latest comment comes as the United States and three of its allies asked for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss Tehran’s rocket launches earlier this month, which Washington says is a violation of a U.N. resolution.
Khamenei's comments reportedly offer support to the hardline Revolutionary Guards, who have been criticized by Western powers for the ballistic missiles test earlier this month. Although Khamenei supported the country’s nuclear deal with international powers last July, he has since asked the country to avoid further rapprochement with the West, and has urged focus on developing economic and military strength.
“Those who say the future is in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors,” Khamenei was cited as saying in the website, according to Reuters, adding: “If the Islamic Republic seeks negotiations but has no defensive power, it would have to back down against threats from any weak country.”
While Iran has maintained that the test fire of the ballistic missiles was for self-defense, the U.S. and several allies said the launches defied Resolution 2231. The U.N. Security Council resolution had called for Iran to refrain from launching any ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, after the launches, that the missiles do not fall under the “purview of 2231 and they are not illegal.”
“Iran will never use any means to attack any country, including our missiles. These are only for our defense. I challenge those who are complaining about Iran's missile program ... to make the same statement,” Zarif had said. Russia stood by Iran and said that “a call,” as mentioned in the resolution, is not binding and thus, the tests do not violate the resolution.