Iran's missile programme is non-negotiable, says President Rouhani

Teheran has ruled out halting its missile programme or changing its regional policy, and instead has demanded a change in US policy.
Teheran has ruled out halting its missile programme or changing its regional policy, and instead has demanded a change in US policy.PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI (REUTERS) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday (Dec 14) that Teheran's missile programme was non-negotiable and that US President-elect Joe Biden is "well aware of it".

Mr Biden's victory has raised the possibility that Washington could rejoin a deal Iran reached with world powers in 2015, and he appears to see a return as a prelude to wider talks on Iran's nuclear work, its ballistic missiles and regional activities.

But Teheran has ruled out halting its missile programme or changing its regional policy, and instead has demanded a change in US policy, including the lifting of sanctions and compensation for the economic damage caused during the US withdrawal from the nuclear accord.

"The Americans were trying for months to add the missile issue (to the nuclear talks) and this was rejected.... And Mr Biden knows this well," Mr Rouhani told a televised news conference.

Tensions between Washington and Teheran have risen since 2018, when President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal, and restored harsh economic sanctions to pressure Iran into negotiating stricter curbs on its nuclear programme, ballistic missile development and support for regional proxy forces.