Iran's top diplomat decries U.S. 'addiction to coercion'

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Iran's foreign minister is decrying new U.S. sanctions over Iran's ballistic missile testing, calling them an example of an American "addiction to coercion.

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Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaking Wednesday to The Associated Press, called the ballistic program legitimate self-defence and said the prospect of restoring bilateral diplomatic relations is "far away" despite the recent landmark nuclear deal.

He spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos before taking part in a debate focusing on the Islamic Republic.

The United States on Sunday imposed sanctions against 11 individuals and entities involved in Iran's ballistic missile program as a result of Tehran's firing of a medium-range ballistic missile, a new punishment one day after the Obama administration lifted economic penalties against Iran over its nuclear program.

"We believe these sanctions are uncalled for. We believe the sanctions are illegal. They violate basic principles. The Iranian missile program is a legitimate defence program" and allowed under the landmark nuclear deal, he said.

"It shows that the United States has an addiction which has been very difficult for it to overcome," Zarif said, specifying, "Its addiction to pressure, addiction to coercion, addiction to sanctions."

Asked about conservative voices within Iran, he said: "Iran is not a monolith, I think Americans would recognize that ... just like the United States is not. So you have a difference of views among various political actors, among various parts of the population."

Despite lingering tensions between Iran and the United States despite the nuclear deal, he said, "the United States can take steps to overcome this mistrust," he said, such as through implementation of the nuclear agreement.

Zarif spoke in a hotel room at the glamorous Intercontinental hotel, where U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden was also holding meetings. The minister said they had no plans to meet.



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