(May 3, 2018 / MEMRI) According to reports in Western media, Britain, France and Germany are agreeing with U.S. President Donald Trump that Iran’s ballistic-missile program and Iran’s expansion in the region constitute a threat for the region and its security and stability.
To date, Iran has firmly rejected the Western demands for discussion of its ballistic missile program, stating that it requires the program for self-defense, despite the fact that its missile’s 2,000-km range is accepted by the international community as designated for offensive purposes.
With regard to shorter-range missiles, Iran is denying any involvement in the provision of such missiles to the Houthi rebels in Yemen; with regard to its expansion in the region, it is claiming that its presence in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon is aimed at protecting its own borders from the Islamic State (ISIS) threat.
On April 30, 2018, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) deputy commander Gen. Hossein Salami reiterated this position at a ceremony for Iran’s National Persian Gulf Day: “While the enemies threaten us and demand that we disarm, this demand is immoral, illogical and ambitious. The missiles are [our] defensive capital, and [one of] the main foundations of our deterrent might.
“We will never agree to give up our defensive capability.” He added: “The Europeans must know that although there are sanctions on us, we will never disarm and lose the foundations of our might. We are the ones who have secured energy for them, and they must not play with our might. Iran is capable of defending its interests at every point. We have not long to go until we reach great heights. We have made our might largely immune to harm.”
In statements published several days after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s visit to Iran in early March 2018, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and IRGC commanders rejected out of hand the French official’s demands for discussions on Iranian missiles and expansion.
It should be noted that amid Iran’s conflict with the West over its demands regarding Iran’s missiles, and despite the Iranian regime’s claim that the missiles are for defensive purposes, Hossein Dalirian, director of the military desk of the Tasnim news agency, which is close to the IRGC, did not hesitate to tweet, on March 21, 2018, photos of missiles at a Persian New Year IRGC exhibition in the city of Ahwaz, one of which bore the message “Israel must be wiped [off the map]” in Hebrew and Persian (see below).
It is also notable that in its responses on missile matters, Iranian officials repeatedly emphasize an agreement apparently reached during the JCPOA negotiations with the Obama administration; under this agreement, Iran consents to limit its missile project only to missiles with a range of 2,000 km, which does not endanger Europe but does cover Israel (see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1298, According To Iranian Officials, Obama Administration Gave Unwritten Consent In The Nuclear Talks And In The JCPOA Negotiations For Iran To Develop Ballistic Missiles With A Range Of Only 2,000 km – That Is, Capable Of Striking Israel But Not Europe, February 2, 2017).
This paper will present the main points of statements by Iranian officials rejecting any demand by the West regarding Iranian missiles or regarding Iran’s regional expansion.
MEMRI has published a number of reports on statements by Iranian officials objecting to limits to Iran’s missile capability:
– MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7191, Iranian Officials To Europe: Hands Off Our Ballistic Missiles – They’re Not Aimed At You, And Can Even Serve Your Security Needs, November 21, 2017.
– MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1357 IRGC Commander Jafari In Message Meant To Reassure Europe: Right Now, We Are Settling For Missiles With 2,000-Km Range – That Covers U.S. Forces In The Region, Nov. 3, 2017.
– MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6349, Iran Launches Long-Range Missiles Emblazoned With Slogan: ‘Israel Should Be Wiped Off The Face Of The Earth,’ March 16, 2016.
Iranian officials’ statements against European demands on the issues of its missiles and regional expansion
As a rule, the Iranian political and military leadership maintains a uniform stand opposing in principle any discussions with Europe or with anyone else on the issues of its missiles and its expansion in the region.
Supreme Leader Khamenei to U.S. and Europe: ‘Why should talks be held with you?’
On March 8, 2018, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei addressed the issue of American and European elements’ opposition to Iran’s presence in the Middle East, saying: “The American administration that creates fitna [strife] and spreads corruption asks us, Why are you present in the region? Well, do [we] have to obtain your permission to be present in the region? In order to be present in the region, we need to conduct negotiations and talks with the governments of the region. Why should [we] talk with you? When we want to be present in America, we will talk to you.
“The same goes for the countries of Europe, that say they want to talk with us about our presence in the region. What business is it of yours? Why are you yourselves present in the region? Is this our region, or yours? If it is ours, what are you doing here? This is our region, and we will talk with the peoples of the region or with the regimes of the region, and we will reach agreements. Thank God, we have already reached agreements, we have succeeded, and we have advanced. God willing, in the future we will advance even more.”
Deputy IRGC Commander Salami: ‘Our defensive capabilities cannot be stopped or curbed’
In a March 7, 2018 speech at an exhibition of the IRGC’s industrial achievements, Deputy IRGC commander Gen. Hossein Salami said: “With regard to the recent positions of some of the Western officials in the matter of our military and missile capability – our defensive capabilities cannot be stopped or curbed. No country can control the might of Iran’s defense… There will be no negotiations on or halting of our defensive capability.
“The relations that other countries and hostile superpowers can hold with us can only [involve] their recognition of the fact that Iran is emerging as a superpower, with reason and a reputation on the deterrent level… We have reached the point where it is not possible to curb the expansion of science and new technologies, or of [our] defense.”
IRGC Aerospace and Missile Force Commander Hajizadeh: ‘The world of arrogance [i.e. the U.S.] … can do nothing’ against us
In a speech at the Festival of the Soldier, which took place at IRGC headquarters on March 7, 2018, IRGC Aerospace and Missile Force commander Brig.-Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said: “Every day, the Americans enlarge their weapons stores, [yet] they say that we should not have missiles to defend our interests. … The world of today is a world of might. … Despite the enemies and the steps taken by the arrogance [i.e., the U.S.], more and more [Iranian elements] support expanding Iran’s defense.
The government, the Majlis and everyone, including everyone, are unanimous and active on the issue of [our] missiles, particularly surface-to-surface missiles. Once, we had to give extensive explanations to the institutions regarding our steps; now, this is no longer the situation, and our production [of missiles] has increased threefold.
“We must not accept the news about ourselves that is [published by] the media of the enemy. They oppose the unity of our people and are hostile to them; they publish rumors, for example, that this earthquake is a result of IRGC missile tests. … The world of arrogance [i.e. the U.S.] is establishing a front against us, but you must know that they can do nothing [against us].”
Kayhan: ‘The regional negotiations are aimed at cancelling Iran’s military might’
On March 10, 2018, the Kayhan daily, which is close to the IRGC, warned about “the dialogue between Iranian Foreign Ministry elements and Western elements in England, France, and Germany,” noting that “the aim of American and Europe in these talks is to expel Iran from the region and besiege it within its geographical borders.” He added: “The result of this aim is for ‘little Iran’ [i.e. within its national borders] to rapidly deteriorate and collapse …
“In effect, it can be said that the first result of regional negotiations will be a grave weakening of our security status, not only regionally but also domestically because after that, ‘little Iran’ will be easily attacked by Saudi Arabia, the Zionist regime, America and Europe, who are deeply hostile to it.”
The rest of the report can be read at MEMRI here.