Senior Iranian officials lashed out at the Obama administration on Wednesday for what they called its "breach" of a recently signed nuclear accord, accusing the White House of taking its cue from "radical Zionist lobbies"—a position that Iran claims European negotiators agree with.
The rhetoric comes as nuclear talks between Tehran and the West broke down after the United States announced greater sanctions on Iran.
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The Iranian government’s confrontation with the administration was accompanied by multiple military announcements, including the claim from a top military official that "Iran is the fifth missile power in the world."
After the Iranians broke off talks late last week, U.S. officials admitted they are "very skeptical" that Tehran will agree to a final nuclear deal despite a plan to get the parties back to the bargaining table.
The Iranians responded this week by accusing the White House of breaching the interim accord, which is meant to temporarily halt portions of Iran’s contested uranium enrichment program.
"During the two days of my meetings with European delegations, they criticized the U.S. for its breach of the Geneva agreement and said that the U.S. obeys radical Zionist lobbies and individuals who have exerted pressure on that country," Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, was quoted as saying on Tuesday by Iran’s state-run media.
Rafsanjani claimed that Italian officials and other European leaders are upset with Washington for announcing greater sanctions last week.
"Just today, I had a meeting with former Italian prime minister (Massimo D'Alema), and he told me that they have protested against the U.S. and criticized Washington for acting alone and unilaterally," Rafsanjani said, adding that Iran does not accept the United States’ positions as legitimate
"Now the Americans want to justify this violation, and they say these sanctions belong to the past, but we do not accept it," he said.
Rafsanjani also hinted that European countries would continue to roll back their own economic sanctions on Iran regardless of what happens in the nuclear talks.
Secretary of State John Kerry phoned the Iranian Foreign Minister on Monday evening in a bid to "soothe Iran’s anger," according to Tehran’s Foreign Ministry.
Sources on Capitol Hill familiar with the talks said they are surprised the White House is still pushing for talks that it knows will end in failure.
"The deal is an illusion; there is no deal in place," said one Senate aide. "President Obama announced a deal nearly a month ago and the Iranians haven't taken a single step to implement it."
"How are we safer today?" the source asked. "We're not—we're actually less safe today than we were a month ago because the sanctions pressure has eased while Iran has continued its illicit activities."
As the deal, which was celebrated by the Obama administration as a landmark agreement, continues to hit roadblocks, Iranian military leaders have increased their threats against the West.
Mansour Haqiqatpour, the vice chairman of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission, said on Wednesday that Iran is a global leader in "indigenous missile technology."
"Our strongest deterrence factor against enemies’ threats is this country’s missile capability and capacity," Haqiqatpour was quoted as saying by Iran’s Fars News Agency. "Our Islamic Iran is the fifth missile power in the world."
Iranian military leaders claim that the country now possesses its own ballistic missile technology, which could be used to fire a nuclear-armed weapon.
In addition to unveiling new details of shoulder-fired missiles, a key weapon used by terrorists, the Iranian military recently unveiled a new long range radar system that it claims will make it "more powerful in any possible electronic war."
The radar will boost Iran’s air defenses and allow it to home in on airborne targets, according to the commander of Iran’s Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base.
"The radar is complementary to the phased array radar system unveiled on Sept. 1, and its repair and maintenance is very simple," General Farzad Esmayeeli was quoted as saying on Tuesday.