0642 GMT January 19, 2020
“It’s our legitimate defense. These are not missiles that are designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads and, therefore, it is within our right to self-defense,” Zarif told The New Yorker in an interview published on Friday.
Iran successfully test-fired its precision-guided long-range Emad missile on October 11 but it sparked an uproar among US politicians who accused Iran of violating a nuclear accord.
In a letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday, a number of Republican senators called on the government not to lift sanctions against Iran as required by the July nuclear agreement.
“It is a mistake to treat Iran’s ballistic missile program as separate from Iran’s nuclear program,” the 35 senators wrote.
Zarif dismissed any negotiations on Iran's defensive missile program.
“Your allies are spending tens of billions of dollars on buying weaponry that they don’t need in this region. Iran’s military hardware is less than a fraction of that of any of the countries in this region,” he told the New Yorker.
Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said on Wednesday Iran will continue its missile program.
“We consider defense as our inalienable and recognized right and will continue to design, manufacture, and put into operation any necessary conventional weapons and equipment in order to defend the country,” he said.
Dehqan also said the nuclear agreement had not banned Iran from boosting its defense capabilities.
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly said that its military might poses no threat to other countries, reiterating that its defense doctrine is merely based on deterrence.