Iran says missile program is defensive

‘TERRORISM SUPPORT’::Iran said no UN resolution bars it from developing missiles, a day after the US accused it of breaking the 2015 nuclear accord, which the US rejects

Reuters, DUBAI

Mon, Dec 03, 2018 - Page 4

Iran yesterday said that its missile program is defensive and not in breach of UN resolutions, official news agency IRNA said, following a US allegation that Tehran had carried out a new missile test.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday condemned what he said was Iran’s testing of a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads as a violation of the 2015 framework agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.

Pompeo on Twitter said that Iran is increasing its “testing and proliferation” of missiles, and called on it to “cease these activities.”

Pompeo’s statement provided few details about the latest Iranian missile test.

“The Iranian regime has just test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile that’s capable of carrying multiple warheads,” he wrote in the tweet.

“This test violates UNSCR 2231,” he added, citing the UN Security Council’s endorsement of the international nuclear agreement. “We condemn this act.”

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, addressing a security forum in California, said that the Iranian launch was significant and was a reminder that Tehran is unlikely to be deterred from pursuing missile technology or supporting militant proxies.

“It shows that our best efforts to try to talk them out of their aggressive support of terrorism is probably going to be as unsuccessful as the UN’s effort to stop them from launching missiles,” Mattis said.

He added that while the strategic threat from Iran is less significant globally than the one from North Korea, it is regionally significant.

“And it could grow beyond that if it’s not dealt with,” Mattis said.

“Iran’s missile program is defensive in nature... There is no Security Council resolution prohibiting the missile program and missile tests by Iran,” IRNA quoted Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying in response to Pompeo’s remarks.

Qasemi did not confirm or deny that Iran had carried out a new missile test.

Under the UN resolution enshrining the 2015 accord with the UK, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US, Iran is “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

Iran has repeatedly said that its missile program is purely defensive and denied that its missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads.

Qasemi, addressing Pompeo, said: “It is ... ironic that you cite a resolution that you have not only breached through your unilateral and unlawful withdrawal from the [nuclear] accord, but that you also encourage others to breach or even threaten to punish and sanction them if they carry it [the accord] out.”

US President Donald Trump in May pulled Washington out of the nuclear deal, approved before he took office, and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Trump said that the deal was flawed, as it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for armed proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

The Iranian government has ruled out negotiations with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly its missile program, which is run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.