Iran: Missile tests not in violation of nuclear deal

ira mish tIran’s missile tests do not involve rockets with nuclear warheads and are not part of a historic deal signed two years ago by world powers, according to the country’s foreign minister.

Javad Zarif affirmed his position on Tuesday, a day after White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the US was “aware that Iran fired a missile” and “looking into the exact nature of it”.

Addressing reporters alongside his visiting French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Zarif said: “The missile issue is not part of the nuclear deal.”

Reiterating Iran’s traditional stance, Zarif said his country’s missiles are “not designed for the capability of carrying a nuclear warhead”.

Iran is only using ballistic missiles to defend itself, he added.

A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a ballistic missile test was carried out on Sunday from a site near Semnan, east of Tehran, according to the Reuters news agency.

The medium-range ballistic missile reportedly exploded after 1,010 km, the official said, adding that the last time this type of test was launched in July 2016.

Nuclear deal

The reported test drew wide condemnation as many feared it could be in violation of a UN resolution adopted in 2015 prohibiting ballistic missile tests designed to deliver a nuclear warhead.

The resolution was part of the nuclear deal between Iran and the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

US Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would work with lawmakers and President Donald Trump’s administration to hold Iran accountable.

Meanwhile, the European Union called on Tehran to “refrain from activities which deepen mistrust”. EU foreign policy spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said that such a test was “inconsistent” with the UN resolution.

Israel also condemned the test.

During the US election campaign, Trump branded the nuclear agreement “the worst deal ever negotiated”, telling voters he would either rip it up or seek a better deal.

Speaking from Tehran, France’s Ayrault voiced “concern” over the reported test.

“France has expressed its concern at Iran’s continuation of its ballistic missile tests on several occasions,” Ayrault said, speaking ahead of an urgent UN Security Council meeting due on Tuesday and called by Washington to discuss the test.

He said the continued tests are “contrary to the spirit” of the Security Council resolution.

But, he added: “We harbour real concerns about the US administration’s attitude towards this agreement.”

In a similar vein, Zarif said he hoped Iran’s defence programme “is not used by the new US administration … as a pretext to create new tensions”.

Source: Agencies