Iranian Leader Calls for Mass-production of Missiles

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Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, with military leaders.Credit: AP

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Sunday called on the country's Revolutionary Guards to mass-produce missiles, saying that Western expectations that Iran would limit its missile program were "stupid and idiotic."

"They expect us to limit our missile program while they constantly threaten Iran with military action. So this is a stupid, idiotic expectation," Khamenei told members of the Revolutionary Guards airspace unit during a visit to an aeronautics fair in Tehran.

"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 said.

Also on Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that Iran will not accept "nuclear apartheid," but is willing to offer more transparency over its atomic activities.

Speaking on state television in the run-up to a new round of talks with world powers, Rohani said: "We have nothing to put on the table and offer to them but transparency. That's it. Our nuclear technology is not up for negotiation."

"Iran will not retreat one step in the field of nuclear technology... We will not accept nuclear apartheid," Rohani said.

Iran and the P5+1 group of nations will start hammering out a draft accord on Tuesday, aimed at ending a decade-long standoff over suspicions that the Islamic Republic is concealing its nuclear objectives.

The negotiators have a July 20 deadline, set by an interim deal reached in November that put temporary limits on Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for modest sanctions relief.

Earlier on Sunday, Reuters reported that United Nations experts had concluded that Iran's attempts to illicitly procure materials for its disputed nuclear and missile programs appeared to have slowed down during its negotiations with world powers.

That conclusion was based on a confidential report that Reuters claimed to have seen. However, the UN Panel of Experts, which monitors compliance with the Security Council's sanctions regime on Iran, noted that it was also possible Tehran has simply learned to outsmart security and intelligence services in its pursuit of sensitive components and materials.

The report cited "a decrease in the number of detected attempts by Iran to procure items for prohibited programs, and related seizures, since mid-2013... It is possible that this decrease reflects the new political environment in Iran and diplomatic progress towards a comprehensive solution."