May 23, 2017

TEHRAN, May 23 (Reuters) – Iran’s re-elected Hassan Rouhani vowed on Monday that Iran will continue to carry out its missile tests, striking a defiant note after criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Rouhani made the remarks during his first press conference since he won re-election in a landslide on Saturday.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Speaking to local and international media, Rouhani downplayed a multi-billion arms deal signed over the weekend between the United States and Saudi Arabia and described Trump’s trip to Riyadh as a show with no value.

“In my view, the trip of the U.S. president to Saudi Arabia is just a political show, which will not produce any practical or political values. Saudi Arabia has done this before. It is absolutely useless in combating terrorism by simply holding such kind of meetings or giving money to a super power,” Rouhani said.

Trump started his first overseas tour after taking office on Saturday with a 110 billion U.S. dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia to help the Arab nation and the rest of the Gulf region fight against what he called terrorism and counterbalance Iran.

Rouhani said the U.S. does not understand the Middle East region where it is Iraq, Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah that are actually fighting against terrorism, while Iran has been providing assistance by sending diplomats and military advisers to these countries.

He stressed that Iran will continue with its missile tests.

“Our missiles are for peace and defense rather than aggression. American officials should know that whenever we need to technically test a missile, we will do so and will not wait for their permission,” said Rouhani.

Rouhani also said that addressing youth unemployment will be a top priority during his second term in office, calling for solidarity to build the country.

He noted that Iran is ready to interact and cooperate with other countries in the spirit of mutual respect and benefit.

The 68-year-old Rouhani is faced with multiple challenges and the number one seems to be the national economy, because average Iranians say they do not feel the economic benefits in their daily lives despite the lifting of international sanctions following the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.