At a recent meeting of the Strategic Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran titled “Analyzing Trump’s behavior,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, addressed recent developments regarding the nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA).
“If the Americans think that they will ultimately be negotiating such issues with Iran, they have chosen a completely wrong path. Iran intends to solve these issues off the negotiating table. There is absolutely no room for negotiation,” he threatened.
Jafari also stated that if the United States is bent on implementing new sanctions against the Guard Corps, they had better move their regional bases at least a 2,000 kilometer radius away from Iran (i.e., outside missile range).
He further threatened that if the U.S. government designates the Guards as a terrorist organization, the Guards would “target the U.S. military throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, considering it the same as ISIS.”
Iran has threatened missile strikes in the past against the U.S., specifically against U.S. ships in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
Assessing the new U.S. sanctions against Iran, Jafari said, “These sanctions finalize the experience of JCPOA for us, and that experience is that America uses dialogue as a tool of pressure and hostility, not interaction or problem-solving.
“The United States’ conduct with Iran has proved that we cannot regulate our foreign relations solely on the basis of JCPOA
“Americans know that Iran will take advantage of the stupidity of the Trump administration concerning their revoking of JCPOA. We will just use that as an opportunity to advance our conventional missile programs and defense programs,” he added.
At the same time, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasimi denied claims made in a Reuters report that Tehran was ready to negotiate its ballistic missile program and reiterated that the program was not negotiable.
“Iran has repeatedly stressed in all bilateral diplomatic meetings that its missile defense program is non-negotiable, and that it does not conflict with UN Security Council Resolution 2231,” Qasimi said, according to a report in the Iranian news agency Mehr.
A report by Reuters on Friday quoted well-informed Iranian and Western officials as saying that Iran had hinted to the six world powers that it might be ready to talk about its arsenal of ballistic missiles in an effort to ease tensions surrounding the controversial program.
The issue of Iranian missiles makes Iran’s relationship with Western countries highly problematic, as the United States is now stressing the need to stop Iran’s missile testing.
White House spokeswoman Sandra Sanders said President Trump would look at all of Tehran’s behavior – not just the nuclear deal — to determine Washington’s new strategy toward Iran.
“The nuclear deal is not the only bad behavior of Iran, but its missile tests, instability in the region, its support for terrorism, cyber-attacks and its possession of an illegal nuclear program, can also be seen as part of Tehran’s bad behavior,” she said.
Senior White House officials have revealed in the past week that Trump seemed to be pursuing a path that could lead the United States to abandon the deal. Trump has until October 15 to certify to Congress that the United States is still in the deal.
Trump sees JCPOA as giving Iran concessions and access to funds that help to expand its influence in the Middle East and destabilize Arab countries such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen.