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Iran denies Pompeo claim that it is ready to negotiate ballistic missile program

Iran denies Pompeo claim that it is ready to negotiate ballistic missile program
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran may be prepared to negotiate over its ballistic missile program, but was soon rebuked by the Islamic Republic, which vocally denied the claim.

At a cabinet meeting at the White House on Tuesday, Pompeo said that Tehran had signaled an interest in negotiations, though he gave no additional details.

The statement was soon met with an unequivocal denial from a spokesman for Iran’s UN mission, Alireza Miryousefi, who said the country’s missiles “are absolutely and under no condition negotiable,” adding that recent comments from Foreign Minister Javad Zarif do not indicate otherwise.

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Zarif told NBC’s Lester Holt in an interview published on Monday that Iran would consider talks under the condition that Washington halts all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both US allies; however Miryousefi insisted the FM’s comment should not be interpreted as an offer for talks.

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Tensions between the two countries have spiked since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear accord signed with Iran and world powers in 2015, reintroducing a raft of crippling economic sanctions that have decimated the country’s ability to export oil, a vital revenue source. A number of mysterious attacks on tankers in and around the Persian Gulf, as well as Iran’s shootdown of a US spy drone, have ratcheted hostilities yet higher.

READ MORE: Mystery in the Persian Gulf: Vanishing oil tanker near Iran fuels speculation

Though it remains in the nuclear pact, in recent weeks Iran has boosted its rate and level of uranium enrichment beyond the caps set out in the 2015 deal, arguing that if Washington refuses to meet its commitments, Iran would also scale back its own obligations under the agreement.

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