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Khamenei sets out nuclear deal demands

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday set out Iran’s conditions for staying in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement following the US withdrawal earlier this month.

Khamenei said the EU must “fully guarantee Iran’s oil sales” and make up for any shortfall through renewed US economic sanctions, European banks “must safeguard trade with the Islamic Republic” in the face of new US sanctions, the EU must pledge not to seek new limitations on Iran’s ballistic missile programme or its activities in the Middle East and a new UN Security Council resolution must be submitted to protest the American decision to withdraw from the deal.

If these conditions are not met, “Iran reserves the right to restart its suspended nuclear activities,” he said. Khamenei also said Iran could no longer have any dealings with the US.

Khamenei’s remarks came two days after new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented his demands for a new deal with Iran, which included the withdrawal of its forces from Syria and new measures to end Iran’s ballistic missile programme.

The New York Times reported yesterday that weapons experts have identified activity at a secret facility near the city of Shahrud in the Iranian desert that could be evidence of a covert programme to develop long-range missiles. Satellite images show ground markings which resemble those from powerful rocket engine tests.

According to weapons experts cited in the report, the facility could be developing only medium-range missiles, which Iran already possesses, or perhaps an unusually sophisticated space program. But an analysis of structures and ground markings at the facility strongly suggests, though does not prove, that it is developing the technology for long-range missiles.

Western officials have maintained that the only reason Tehran could have for manufacturing long-range missiles would be to fit them with non-conventional warheads, including nuclear.

The article states that “such a programme would not violate the international deal intended to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, or any other formal agreement. Still, if completed, it could threaten Europe and potentially the US”.