Iran missile capability not up for debate in nuclear talks: minister

*Dehqan says IAEA will not be given another chance to visit Parchin military site

TEHRAN – Iranian Defence Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan has said that Iran’s missile capability is not up for discussion in talks with six world powers over nuclear energy programme.

“The issue of Iran’s missile capability has not been included in the negotiations and the joint plan of action agreed upon between Iran and the West,” Dehqan told a press conference on the occasion of Iran's Defence Industry Day on Saturday. “Iran’s missile capability has not been and will by no means be negotiated with anyone,” he added.

Answering a question about the Parchin military site located outside Tehran, the defence minister said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will not be given another chance to visit the facility because the UN watchdog has already completed its inspections there. “The agency has already conducted its inspections in Parchin and there is no reason for granting renewed access," he added.

Dehqan stated that Iran has answered all questions and ambiguities put forward by the IAEA about Parchin, adding that the UN nuclear body has not brought up any new questions. The Iranian official was reacting to remarks by some Western officials, particularly in the United States, who have called for Iran’s missile programme to be included in the nuclear talks with the six countries.

A recent Pentagon assessment said Iran’s military achievements pursue defensive purposes, putting the seal of approval on Iran’s military doctrine. Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have been holding talks to sort out differences and achieve a final comprehensive deal that would end the decade-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear energy programme.

The two sides reached an interim agreement last November in Geneva. In July, they agreed on the extension of the negotiations until November 24 in an effort to achieve a permanent nuclear deal.

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