Iran’s Foreign Minister scolds Trump over tweet

Mohammad Javad Zarif calls on Trump to check facts after he tweeted about an Iranian missile launch which officials said was fake.

Elad Benari,

Mohammad Javad Zarif
Mohammad Javad Zarif
Reuters

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Wednesday scolded U.S. President Donald Trump over a weekend tweet about an Iranian missile launch which officials later said was fake.

“We need to check our facts before we make statements,” Zarif told The Associated Press. “It worries me that people play with facts and produce alternative facts.”

On Saturday, Iranian media reported that the Islamic Republic had test-fired a new Khorramshahr ballistic missile that is capable of carrying multiple warheads.

Trump later responded to the test and tweeted, "Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!"

On Monday, two U.S. officials told Fox News that the video of the alleged launch released by the Iranians was more than seven months old and actually dated back to a failed launch in late January.

In addition to blasting Trump for tweeting about a nonexistent test, Zarif also declared the U.S. president’s newly extended travel ban restrictions on Iran to be “an insult to the entire Iranian nation.”

The restrictions, which go into effect October 18, cover citizens of Iran, Chad, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

“It is unfortunate that for irrelevant political reasons the president of the United States decides to alienate … and antagonize an entire nation who have not harmed anybody,” Zarif told AP.

“I believe that we need to respond to the measures that were taken by the United States in order to preserve the dignity of our citizens,” he said, “but how we respond is a decision that we will make.”

Zarif also rejected what he called the “myth” that a renegotiation of the nuclear deal his country signed with the West in 2015 is possible.

He said Trump “would open a Pandora’s box” by trying to re-litigate the deal’s time limits on various Iranian nuclear activities.

The President has long been a vocal critic of the Iranian nuclear deal, and he repeated his criticism of the deal in his speech at the UN General Assembly last week.

Trump called the deal "an embarrassment" to the U.S. and "one of worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."

Trump is due to update Congress by October 15 whether Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal.

While he recently confirmed that Iran is adhering to the nuclear agreement, he and other officials in the administration stressed that the President still has reservations about the deal.

Key limits on Iran’s stockpiling of uranium and production of plutonium, both representing potential paths to a nuclear bomb, expire after 10 and 15 years. Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have argued that that amounts to a devastating flaw in the agreement.

“It doesn’t mean that after that time Iran will be free to develop nuclear weapons,” Zarif told AP. “Iran does not consider nuclear weapons to be in its strategic interest, and at the same time we’ll be bound by international obligations not to develop nuclear weapons afterward.”

He further said that if the U.S. withdraws from the deal “then we’re not bound by that agreement and we will then decide how we want to deal with it.”




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