Talks with US useless, says Iran as it unveils missile defence system

TEHERAN • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is striking a muscular tone on dealings with the United States, saying "talks are useless" as Teheran's nuclear deal with world powers crumbles further.

Mr Rouhani made the comment in a speech yesterday in Teheran at the unveiling of the Bavar-373, a long-range surface-to-air missile system he described as an improvement on the Russian S-300.

Iran earlier called the Bavar-373 its first locally produced long-range missile defence system. It began making Bavar after the purchase of Russia's S-300 system was suspended in 2010 due to sanctions.

"Now that our enemies do not accept logic, we cannot respond with logic," Mr Rouhani said in the televised speech. He added: "When the enemy launches a missile against us, we cannot give a speech and say, 'Mr Rocket, please do not hit our country and our innocent people. Rocket-launching sir, if you can, please hit a button and self-destroy the missile in the air'."

On Wednesday, Iran's state TV reported that the Bavar-373 is able to recognise up to 100 targets at the same time and confront them with six different weapons.

Since 1992, Iran has developed a home-grown defence industry that has produced light and heavy weapons ranging from mortars and torpedoes to tanks and submarines.

Yesterday's unveiling took place against a backdrop of rising tensions with Washington after President Donald Trump last year withdrew the US from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions over concerns about Iran's missile programme and regional influence.

 

Meanwhile, Iran is prepared to work on French proposals to salvage the international nuclear deal it signed with world powers in 2015, its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said yesterday.

"There are proposals on the table, both from the French and the Iranian side, and we are going to work on those proposals tomorrow," he said at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

French President Emmanuel Macron offered on Wednesday to either soften sanctions on Iran or provide "a compensation mechanism to enable the Iranian people to live better", in return for full compliance with the pact.

ASSOCIATED PRESS, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2019, with the headline 'Talks with US useless, says Iran as it unveils missile defence system'. Print Edition | Subscribe