Iran vows to continue ballistic missile development

Iran has conducted several missile tests this year

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Reuters
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Reuters

Iran on Thursday rejected pressure to shelve its ballistic missile programme after a European letter to the UN Security Council accused Tehran of developing rockets capable of delivering nuclear bombs.

The British, German and French ambassadors to the council called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to tell the body that Iran’s missile programme was “inconsistent” with a UN resolution underpinning the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

Their letter talks of an Iranian missile “technically capable of delivering a nuclear weapon”.

Iran responded defiantly, saying it was determined to proceed with its missile programme, which it has repeatedly described as defensive and nothing to do with its nuclear activity.

"Iran is determined to resolutely continue its activities related to ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles," Iranian UN envoy Majid Takht-Ravanchi said in a letter to Mr Guterres.

Missiles on display in Tehran in September, 2017. Reuters
Missiles on display in Tehran in September, 2017. Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif denounced the European powers' intervention.

"The latest E3 letter to UNSG on missiles is a desperate falsehood to cover up their miserable incompetence in fulfilling the bare minimum of their own obligations [under the deal]," Mr Zarif tweeted.

He urged Britain, France and Germany not to bow to "US bullying".

Tehran is gradually breaching its commitments under the deal in response to Washington’s withdrawal from the pact last year.

The US then reimposed sanctions on Iran that has crippled its economy.

A 2015 UN resolution called on Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles that could be capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

Some nations including Russia, which with four other world powers wields a veto on the Security Council, say the language does not make it obligatory.

France said on Thursday that Iran's ballistic missile activities did not conform with the Security Council resolution and called on Tehran to respect all of its obligations.

The Security Council is due to meet this month on compliance with the resolution underpinning the nuclear deal, and the European letter "will add to that discussion," a senior European diplomat told Reuters.

Britain, France and Germany have tried to salvage the nuclear pact, under which Iran undertook to curtail its disputed uranium enrichment programme for relief from sanctions.

But Tehran says Europe has failed to protect Iran's economy from US sanctions.

The US and its allies in the Middle East consider Iran's missile programme to be a regional security threat.

French President Emmanuel Macron in November expressed concern over Iran's nuclear weapons development, refusing to rule out further sanctions over its ballistic missile programme.

Iran conducted ballistic missile tests in the summer of 2019 and denies that they breach the resolution.

European states last month urged Iran to stick to its terms after the regime resumed uranium enrichment at its Fordow nuclear plant.

Updated: December 6, 2019 12:54 AM


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