Rouhani: We'll continue our missile tests

Iranian President says his country doesn't need permission from anyone to hold missile tests.

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Elad Benari,

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani
Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday warned that his country would continue its missile tests.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran and quoted by AFP, Rouhani, who was just last week elected to a second term in office, ridiculed U.S. strategy in the Middle East, dismissing President Donald Trump's summit with Arab leaders as "just a show".

"Our missiles are for our defense and for peace, they are not offensive. Know that while there is a technical need to conduct missile tests, we will do so and we will ask the permission of no one," he stressed.

His comments followed fierce criticism from Trump during his visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

"Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon -- never ever -- and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias," Trump said during a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem on Monday.

Rouhani responded by ridiculing decades of U.S. strategy in the Middle East.

"When they attacked Afghanistan, they made a mistake. When they attacked Iraq, they made a mistake. When they imposed sanctions on us, they made a mistake," he said, according to AFP.

"If you know of a case where America acted correctly, you tell me," added the Iranian president, who said the only sensible move by Washington was the nuclear deal it signed with Iran in 2015, when the U.S. "talked with respect" and reached a "win-win result".

"If America chooses another path, it will fail again. There is no doubt in this," he declared.

"We are waiting for this government to settle... I hope it can settle so that we can have a better judgement about those in Washington," said Rouhani.

Asked about Trump's summit with Arab leaders on Sunday, Rouhani said it was "just a show with no practical or political value of any kind" and then added, "You can't solve terrorism just by giving your people's money to a superpower."

Rouhani has been touted as a “moderate” but has in the past called Israel “illegitimate” and has personally presided over “Death to America” chants during rallies in Iran.

During the election campaign, Rouhani criticized the Revolutionary Guards for writing anti-Israel messages on ballistic missiles before testing them.

The missile test in question took place in March of 2016. The words “annihilate Israel” were written on the missiles, and Iranian officials claimed the missile systems being developed were needed “to confront the Zionist entity” and to ensure “its collapse”.

The Trump administration recently imposed new sanctions on 25 individuals and companies connected to Iran's ballistic missile program and those providing support to the Revolutionary Guard Corps' Qods Force, in response to Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile tests.

Iran claims its tests do not violate UN Resolution 2231, which bars Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests for eight years and which went into effect after the nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers was signed.