Iran Triples Ballistic Missile Production – One in the Eye for Trump, Macron and Netanyahu

Tehran moved fast to throw out French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposition for averting the changes demanded by US President Donald Trump in the 2015 nuclear deal. The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Drian was sent to Tehran on Monday, March 5, to persuade Iran’s leaders that if they curtailed their ballistic missile program, the US president might agree to retain the nuclear deal and wiave those changes.

But twenty-four hours later, the Iranians were in full, defiant cry against it.

Brig. Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander in chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Aerospace Force, declared that his country had “increased its missile and defense-related production threefold, despite mounting pressure by the United States and its allies.” The official Tansim News Agency quoted him as saying further: “The enemy’s actions and confrontation with us as well as their efforts to limit our defense capabilities have backfired.” No longer was it necessary to convince parliament and government in this regard, he said. “Now all government officials are actively behind this and our production has increased threefold.”

The IRGC general went on to tell reporters: “Today we are among the first five countries in the fields of air defense, radar, smart bombs and drones.”

These tough sentiments were echoed by another IRGC general and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative in the Guards command. Their opinions represented an across-the-board consensus in Tehran for flatly rejecting any proposals for amending the nuclear accord, or giving the Europeans the slightest opening for negotiations on its missile program.

It may be recalled that the Iranian delegation threatened to walk out of the negotiations that culminated in the 2015 nuclear accord with six world powers, if their ballistic missile program was put on the table. It was later banned by a UN Security Council resolution, but President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s consent to exclude the missile issue saved the nuclear accord from crashing and enabled its final signature.

Nothing has changed in Tehran in the three ensuing years. Khamenei still can’t afford to cross the powerful Revolutionary Guards by relenting on the national missile program which they prize so highly. Macron’s initiative was foredoomed to failure.

It is therefore doubtful whether anything much can be achieved at the meeting scheduled to take place in Berlin on March 15 between representatives of the Trump administration and diplomats from Europe, including Britain, France, Italy, and Germany. They are planning to put their heads together on the improvements Trump is demanding in the nuclear accord’s terms, as his condition for approving its recertification when the next deadline comes round in May.

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