23 May 2024
Wednesday 5 December 2018 - 12:02
Story Code : 329406

UN council meets on Iranís ballistic missile launches

AP ó The United States and Iran traded accusations Tuesday over Tehranís latest ballistic missile test, which the U.N. Security Council discussed behind closed doors without taking any action.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called on the U.N.ís most powerful body to unanimously condemn the ďprovocative missile testĒ on Dec. 1, calling it ďdangerous and concerning, but not surprising.Ē

At issue is Iranís compliance with the Security Council resolution that endorsed the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear agreement with Western powers, which the Trump administration pulled out of in May. A key provision calls on Iran ďnot to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weaponsĒ ó but it does not explicitly demand that Tehran do so.

The Security Council has been divided since the resolution was adopted over whether the language on ballistic missile launches is permissive or mandatory.

Iranís U.N. Mission said in a press release Tuesday that ďall ballistic missile related activities of Iran are in full conformityĒ with the 2015 Security Council resolution and said that ďit is the U.S. that is in absolute violation of the very same resolutionĒ for ďits unlawful withdrawalĒ from the nuclear deal.

Britain, France and Germany ó the three remaining Western powers still part of the nuclear agreement ó had sent a letter to the council, which was circulated Tuesday, saying Iranís earlier launches of Zolfaqar and Qiam short-range ballistic missiles on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 ďare inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons.Ē

Britainís U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce told reporters after the closed council meeting that members expressed ďa lot of concernĒ about the Dec. 1 test launch and stressed that the 2015 resolution doesnít say nuclear weapons must be on the missiles.

She called Iranís actions ďinconsistentĒ with the resolution and ďpart and parcel of Iranís destabilizing activity in the region.Ē

ďThere is no legitimate reason why Iran should flout the resolution and why their spokesman should pretend that the resolution doesnít call on them not to develop such missiles,Ē Pierce said. ďIf you wanted to demonstrate to the international community that you were a responsible member of it and you were genuinely interested in regional peace and security, these are not the sorts of missiles you would be test launching.Ē

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Saturday that Iran had test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads ďwhich has a range that allows it to strike parts of Europe and anywhere in the Middle East.Ē He called that a violation of the 2015 resolution.

Warning that Iranís missile testing and missile proliferation is growing, Pompeo condemned Tehranís actions and called for an immediate halt to ďall activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.Ē

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis added later Saturday that ďright now the strategic level of threat from Iran is less worldwide than (North) Koreaís, but it is certainly significant regionally, and it could grow beyond that if itís not dealt with.Ē

Iranís U.N. Mission said that the countryís ballistic missile program is purely defensive and a ďdeterrent tool against foreign threatsĒ and declared that the country isnít violating the resolution.

ďAs a conventional defensive capability, Iranís ballistic missile program is designed to be exclusively capable of delivering conventional warheads and, as a result, none of Iranís ballistic missiles are Ďdesigned to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons,íĒ the mission said. ďIran has never sought to acquire nuclear weapons and never will in the future.Ē

Haley, the U.S. ambassador, accused Iran of deliberately trying ďto destabilize the Middle East and defy international norms.Ē

Franceís U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said his government has condemned the Dec. 1 launch as ďinconsistentĒ with the 2015 resolution and has called on Iran to immediately halt all activity related to ballistic missiles ďdesigned to be able to carry nuclear weapons,including launches using ballistic missile technology.Ē

Britainís Pierce said the United Kingdom and its European partners have engaged with Iran on foreign policy issues including Yemen and have tried to have a dialogue on ballistic missiles.

ďWe recognize that Iran has a legitimate role in the region and we recognize that she has legitimate defensive needs,Ē Pierce said. ďBut we also believe, and our information is that the sorts of missiles she test-launched on Dec. 1 go way beyond legitimate defensive needs. ... We look again to Iran to cease its destabilizing activity and play a constructive role in this very important region.Ē
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