Iran Says Ban’s Comment on Missile Program Points to Wider Plot

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s criticism of Iran’s commitment to the nuclear deal may be part of a conspiracy against the Islamic Republic, according to the country’s top nuclear official.

Iran must be vigilant following the comments from both Ban and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said in an interview to state TV according to the semi-official Fars News Agency. The world leaders this week criticized the country for failing to cooperate on issues including restrictions on its ballistic missile program.

“A conspiracy is underway, otherwise there is no reason for Mr. Ban and Ms. Merkel to make such an outcry,” Salehi said. “I sense that they are in the process of laying groundwork and concocting.”

Six months after economic sanctions against Iran were eased as part of a deal with world powers that curbed the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions, the country has yet to witness the financial benefits many predicted. Remaining U.S. sanctions and weaknesses in transparency, banking and corporate governance, as well as the threat sanctions could be reimposed, have kept many foreign companies away.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi dismissed Merkel’s comments that Iran was contradicting UN Security Council resolutions. He said the ballistic missile program is “defensive only” and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

“Such statements will have no impact on our country’s legitimate missile program,” Qassemi said on Saturday, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

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