Iran rules ballistics out of nuclear talks

Tehran 'will never accept' its conventional missile stocks being brought within negotiations over its nuclear program, says Defense Ministry.

Tehran 'will never accept' its conventional missile stocks being brought within negotiations over its nuclear program, says Defense Ministry.

ISTANBUL – Iran's ballistic missiles will never be the subject of the ongoing negotiations with the six leading world powers over its nuclear program, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan has said.

The minister's comments on Wednesday came as Iran and the P5+1 group of six leading world powers near the end of six months of negotiations towards a nuclear agreement.

According to a statement released by the Iranian Defense Ministry, Dehghan said that Iran's missile stocks were an internal matter on which the Iranian government would not accept any outside intervention, therefore ruling them out of talks with the group, which comprises the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France - plus Germany.

"Iranian government policy does not allow, and Iranian religious authorities forbid, the killing of people with nuclear weapons. Therefore, the government does not seek to have nuclear weapons," the statement read.

A six-month deal on discussions between Iran and the P5+1 group is set to end in June and the countries are due to prepare a draft accord by mid-May aimed at signing a permanent nuclear deal within two months.

- Economic threat

In the first round of talks last November in Geneva, the sides reached a partial agreement, which raised hopes for a comprehensive accord being reached. 

The world powers aim to curb Iran's nuclear activities while it is seeking a release from sanctions which threaten to cripple its economy.

The EU suspended some economic sanctions against Iran following approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) on January 20 in Brussels.

Under the Geneva deal, the P5+1 countries agreed to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for it agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities for a six-month period.

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