EU issues stark warning to Iran on missiles and human rights

The bloc praised Iran's 'continued full and effective implementation of its nuclear-related commitments' but had some grievances

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses parliament as he defends his new nominee for the Health Ministry, during a parliament session in the capital Tehran,on February 4, 2019.  / AFP / ATTA KENARE
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The EU has warned Iran over the progression of ballistic missile testing and its behaviour in the wider region.

In a 12-point statement issued on Monday the bloc, which remains part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, said it is “gravely concerned” over the state’s missile activity.

"Iran continues to undertake efforts to increase the range and precision of its missiles, together with increasing the number of tests and operational launches … These activities deepen mistrust and contribute to regional instability,” the statement read.

A UN Security Council resolution that enshrined Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers called upon Tehran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Iran says its missile tests are not in violation of the resolution and denies its missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The statement comes less than a week after the UK, German and France created a mechanism for non-dollar trade between Iran and the bloc, enabling the trade of medicines and food without running afoul of US sanctions on Iran.

The EU Council also took issue with Iran’s growing role in the Middle East, particularly the presence of Iranian troops in Syria, calling on the state to support UN efforts to broker peace and use its leverage with Bashar Al Assad to encourage a conclusion to the bloody almost eight year conflict.

The 27-member bloc also encouraged Iran to adhere to the UN’s arms embargo in Yemen and international human rights legislation.

To add to the long list of reasons the EU is dissatisfied with Iran, the statement also urged the country to halt “hostile activities that Iran has conducted on the territory of several Member States”. These activities led the EU to add individuals and Iranian intelligence unit to the bloc's terrorist list in January following a series of attacks and botched plots on EU soil for which member states blame Iran.