Iran's supreme leader is calling Western demands to limit the Islamic Republic’s missile program “stupid" and "idiotic” and has called on his military to mass-produce missiles, just as President Hassan Rouhani has vowed not to retreat “a single step” in Iran's nuclear program.
The tough talk from Iran came before a new round of discussions this week in Vienna between Iranian officials, the U.S., Russia, China and European allies on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.
"They expect us to limit our missile program while they constantly threaten Iran with military action. So this is a stupid, idiotic expectation," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iran’s IRNA news agency on Sunday according to Reuters.
A military truck carrying Shalamcheh missiles drives past the presidential rostrum during the annual Army Day military parade on April 18, 2014 in Tehran. On the right is a portrait of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Getty Images/Atta Kenare)
The U.S. has expressed concern about Iran’s manufacture of long-range missiles that could potentially carry nuclear warheads, but Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.
"The revolutionary guards should definitely carry out their program and not be satisfied with the present level. They should mass-produce. This is a main duty of all military officials," Khamenei added.
The Twitter account believed to be associated with the supreme leader further emphasized his commitment to missile defense, tweeting on Sunday:
Strengthening #missile programs is a duty&all military officials shud work 2wards it&govt officials have a duty 2 provide necessary support.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 11, 2014
IRGC AF should prudently proceed w/its #missile programs& shudnt be content w/current levels & shud expand manufactures to mass productions.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 11, 2014
Also on Sunday, Rouhani, who has been widely characterized as a “moderate” in the Western media vowed that Tehran will not retreat from its nuclear program.
“All westerners, easterners and the [Group of] 5+1 [nations negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program] should know that we will not retreat a single step in the field of the nuclear energy,” Rouhani said at a ceremony in Tehran according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.
“Today, we once again declare to the world that Iran’s nuclear technology is peaceful and that we are after (serving) our nation’s interests,” Rouhani added.
Rouhani further stated that Tehran will not accept "nuclear apartheid,” suggesting he believes Iran is being discriminated against.
“The Iranian nation has never succumbed to discrimination and will never do that, but at the same time, we have never intended to do anything illegal,” he added.