Iran rejected recent United States accusations that the testing of missiles by the country violates a UN resolution and has vowed to continue the tests for the purposes of defense.
Via a statement by the US State Department on Dec. 1, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of test-firing missiles “capable of carrying multiple warheads” that could reach Europe. Pompeo said the test violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which bans Iran from undertaking “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Ironically, the UN resolution Pompeo cited is in regard to the Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the United States itself violated by exiting the deal in May. As noted by analysts, the resolution “calls upon” Iran to not test missiles specifically “designed to carry nuclear weapons” rather than just “nuclear-capable” missiles.
The State Department press release continued: “We condemn these activities, and call upon Iran to cease immediately all activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” Pompeo later tweeted the same message. US national security advisor John Bolton followed up with his own tweet warning that the missiles could reach Israel, adding, “This provocative behavior cannot be tolerated.”
While it is not unexpected that Pomeo and Bolton would take a stand against Iran for allegedly not abiding by a resolution, this time British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also joined in, tweeting, “Deeply concerned by Iran’s test firing of a medium-range ballistic missile.” The tweet said the test firing was “inconsistent with UNSCR 2231,” and the United Kingdom’s support for the JCPOA “in no way lessens our concern at Iran’s destabilizing missile program.”
In response to Pompeo’s claims, spokesman for Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bahram Ghassemi on Dec. 2 neither denied nor confirmed the missile test. He did strike a defiant tone, however, saying, “No resolution at the United Nations Security Council has banned Iran’s missile program or missile tests.” He added, “Iran’s missile program has a defensive nature.”
Ghassemi noted that the United States is making accusations against Iran by citing a resolution that it has itself violated and is also presently in effect advocating for others to violate as well or otherwise “be punished and sanctioned.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted a similar comment, referring to the “surrealism” in US foreign policy.
Abulfazl Shekarchi, spokesman for Iran’s armed forces, said Dec. 2, “Testing missiles and the missile capabilities of the Islamic Republic is for defense and deterrence, and this will continue.” He added that missiles are “outside of the framework of negotiations and are related to national security; therefore, we will not seek permission from any country.”
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has continued to abide by the terms of the nuclear deal. While European countries are attempted to salvage the nuclear deal despite the US exit, most European firms fear the long arm of the US Treasury’s ability to apply sanctions.