PHOTO: One of the ballistic missiles test-fired by the Revolutionary Guards last week

Iran’s Rouhani Government has defended recent tests of ballistic missiles, rebutting Washington’s criticism and warning that it will take the matter to the UN Security Council.

President Rouhani said on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, “We have had and no intention of invading any country, particularly our neighbors, with our missiles and we will not do so, and our arms are solely to defend our nation and country.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards tested missiles last week which hit targets up to 1,400 km (870 miles) away inside the Islamic Republic.

The tests do not violate the terms of the July 2015 deal over Iran’s nuclear program. A UN Security Council resolution bars any further development of ballistic missiles; however, last week’s tests were of missiles, such as the Qadr-H, which were introduced in autumn 2013. Tehran also contends that the prohibition is only on missiles which can carry nuclear warheads.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said on Monday that the testing still “merits a Council response”.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif used Twitter to respond on Tuesday:

Zarif argued, “If we had missiles during Saddam’s war on us [the 1980s Iran-Iran War], they may have discouraged or at least reduced his indiscriminate attacks on our civilians.”

The Foreign Minister also challenged “those who accuse Iran of provocation” to match the statement of Revolutionary Guards officials that “we will not use force except in defense”.

The President’s office immediately retweeted Zarif’s messages.