TEHRAN: Iran’s defence minister has lambasted his US counterpart’s comments about military options against Tehran still being on the table despite ongoing nuclear talks, saying they showed America cannot be trusted.
Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, quoted by the official IRNA news agency Thursday, said Pentagon chief Ashton Carter’s remarks were “designed to affect the rational atmosphere of negotiations” between Iran and world powers in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Ashton, who became defence secretary in February, said in an interview Tuesday with NBC News that if a nuclear deal is not reached “the military option certainly will remain on the table.”
“If there is a good agreement to have, obviously it is worth waiting for and completing the negotiations,” he added.
Dehghan dismissed Ashton’s words as an “empty” threat that would not affect Iran’s “reasonable, rational and fair position” in the talks, though they had come at a “sensitive and difficult” time.
“The said remarks are a testament to the Islamic republic’s distrust for the US,” he said, accusing Carter of “suffering from Alzheimer’s disease”.
“If Ashton Carter remembered America’s previous and recent defeats in the region and the world, he would refrain from making such empty remarks,” Dehghan said.
Iran is “at all times and in all situations ready to retaliate against any hostile threats from aggressors,” he added.
More than 36 hours after a Tuesday deadline for a political agreement meant to pave the way for a final nuclear deal by the end of June, Iran and six world powers have yet to announce if an accord will be possible.
The talks hope to remove Western concerns that Iran might develop nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian energy programme. Iran denies seeking the bomb.