Iran's defense capabilities "non-negotiable", says nuclear negotiator
A member of Iran's team of nuclear negotiators said the republic's defensive capabilities are non-negotiable during talks with six major world powers.
Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister and one of the country's key nuclear negotiators, said discussion of Iran's defense capabilities would be one of the "red lines" that cannot be crossed, Tasnim News Agency reported Monday.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran's defensive issues are neither negotiable nor subject to compromise, and they [defensive issues] will be definitely among our red lines in any negotiation," Araqchi said during a television interview Sunday.
Discussing anything but Iran's nuclear situation by western negotiators -- U.N. Security Council members China, France, Britain, Russia and the United States plus Germany -- won't be permitted, Araqchi said.
"We will by no means allow anybody to propose the subjects other than the nuclear ones in the talks, particularly what pertains to [Iran's] defensive discussion," he underlined.
Araqchi was reacting to comments made last week by U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who said Iran could continue developing ballistic missiles under the nuclear deal and that issue could be addressed in a final agreement.
In November, Iran and the so-called Group of 5-plus-1 signed a six-month interim deal on Tehran's nuclear program. Based on the interim agreement, the six nations agreed to suspend some non-essential sanctions in exchange for Tehran's decision to suspend its 20 percent enrichment for six months while a final deal was negotiated.