Iran’s supreme religious leader on Wednesday said missiles were key to the Islamic Republic’s future, not negotiations with western countries.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei supported last year’s nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers but has since called Iran to avoid further negotiations with the West and focus on maintaining its economic and military strength.
The U.S. criticized Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps for testing ballistic missiles earlier this month.
“Those who say the future is in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors,” Mr. Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state, was quoted as saying by his website, Reuters reported.
“If the Islamic Republic seeks negotiations but has no defensive power, it would have to back down against threats from any weak country.”
His comments could be a response to former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the de facto leader of a more moderate political alliance, who last weekend tweeted: “The future is in dialogue, not missiles.”
However, the U.S. has said that a missile test would not violate the July 2015 nuclear deal, which saw billions of dollars in sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for disbanding its nuclear program.
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