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Iran Will ‘Never Stop’ Its Illicit Missile Program, Officials Say

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images
• May 23, 2017 3:02 pm

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A senior Iranian official declared on Tuesday that Iran will "never stop" developing advanced missile technology in violation of international accords barring such action, according to comments that came in reaction to President Donald Trump's strong rhetoric against Iran during a trip through the Middle East.

Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, a spokesman for the Iranian government, said that Iran's missile program—which the U.S. intelligence community suspects could be used to fire a nuclear-armed weapon—is non-negotiable and will not cease.

Iran will continue to invest in its missile program, Nobakht said.

"Stronger defense power will further protect the internal and regional security; therefore, it is natural that the country's defensive missile program is among the Islamic Republic's unchangeable policies and fortunately, strengthening the defense power has been clearly foreseen in the sixth development program and this year's budget," the official was quoted as saying in Iran's state-controlled media.

Iran maintains that its missile program is defensive in nature, despite mounting evidence that Tehran is building intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Iran remains about a year away from assembling a functional nuclear weapon, according to the U.S. intelligence community.

"Some world powers are attempting to display Iran's defensive missile power as a concern for the neighboring states," Nobakht said. "I should stress that creating concern about Iran's defense power will not lead to its confinement."

Trump, in announcing a historic $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, Iran's top regional opponent, vowed to combat Iran's growing military and support for terrorism.

Nobakht scoffed at claims that Saudi Arabia could strike Iran, saying, "Saudi Arabia is not in a position to take such an action."

Published under: Iran