PHOTO: Iranian Foreign Mohammad Javad Zarif with French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault on Tuesday
Iran has defended its testing of ballistic missiles, a day after reports of its latest launches.
At a press conference with French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault in Tehran on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif repeated Iran’s argument that the testing complies with the July 2015 nuclear deal and a UN Security Council resolution passed at the time.
The US and its allies say the launches violate the resolution’s call on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology”. Iran maintains that the missiles are not able to carry nuclear warheads.
Zarif did not confirm the claim of US and Israeli officials that Iran had carried out its first launch since July 2016. But he said Iranians “never depend on the permission of anyone else for their self-defense” and cautioned US President Donald Trump not to use the Iranian defense program as a pretext for “creating new tensions” and starting “political games”.
Just as all parties to the JCPOA [the nuclear deal’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] announced during negotiations, missile tests are not part of the JCPOA. Both the French administration and the previous American administration that took responsibility for the negotiations have proclaimed that missile tests are not a component of the JCPOA and have no relation to it.
This resolution refers to missiles that have been designed for the capability to carry nuclear weapons. We have said that no ballistic missile has been designed to be capable of carrying a nuclear weapon. Our missiles are for carrying conventional warheads and for the legitimate defense of the Islamic Republic. They are outside Resolution 2231.
The US called an urgent, closed-doors meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
Nikki Haley, the new US Ambassador to the UN, said after the session:
The United States is not naïve. We’re not going to stand by. You’re going to see us call them out as we said we would, and you are also going to see us act accordingly.
We have said with this administration that we are not going to show a blind eye to these things that happen. We’re going to act. We’re going to be strong. We’re going to be loud and we’re going to do whatever it takes to protect the American people and the people across the world.
However, Haley did not say if the Trump Administration regards the missile tests as a violation of the nuclear deal.