Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Iran wants to expand missile range despite US opposition

Iran wants to expand missile range despite US opposition

Iran has defended its missile programme, saying that its programme or tests are not banned under any Security Council resolution, and fiercely refuses to put it on the table during negotiations.

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

Hook told reporters that the United Nations Security Council has been "consistent" for the past 12 years in telling Iran to stop testing and proliferating ballistic missiles and that Iran has been "defying the Council".

After the USA disclosure, Iran admitted to the test, saying that it would continue testing ballistic missiles, but denied that it was violating the resolution.

Hook said Tehran was making transfers of Iranian missiles and missile technology to Syria and allies of Tehran, such as Houthi forces in Yemen and Lebanon's Iranian-backed Shi'ite Hezbollah, a position that European powers privately agree on.

Resolution 2231 says Iran is "called upon" to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles created to deliver nuclear weapons.

The U.S.' call for sanctions on Iran comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to meet European officials in Brussels this week and after the U.S. and others condemned an Iranian missile launch over the weekend.


Pompeo has been pressing Germany, France and the United Kingdom to join the U.S. in withdrawing from the Iran nuclear accord signed during the presidency of Barack Obama in 2015.

The agreement does not bar Western powers or the United Nations from imposing additional sanctions on Iran's non-nuclear activities such as ballistic missile tests, support of terrorism, and human rights violations. "Three days later, they test launched another medium range ballistic missile".

State-run news agency IRNA quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying the country's missile program is "defensive in nature" and does not violate any United Nations resolution.

"This is a continuing discussion that the secretary has had with his E3 counterparts about Iran's missile testing and missile proliferation and regional aggression", said Hook.

"It is a grave and escalating threat, and nations around the world, not just Europe, need to do everything they can to be targeting Iran's missile program", he said. "But we also believe, and our information is, that the sorts of missiles she test-launched on 1 December go way beyond legitimate defensive needs and, in respect of her overall role in region, we look again to Iran to cease her destabilizing activity and play a constructive role in this very important region". The deal was meant to ensure that Iran would not attempt to secretly develop nuclear weapons, an ambition that the country always denied having.

Netanyahu made an unexpected trip to Brussels on Monday afternoon for the meeting with Pompeo, who is in Belgium for talks with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation counterparts. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif doubled down on that. "He reiterated America's resolve in confronting the totality of the Iranian regime's threats through maximum pressure", the State Department statement added.

This pressure, together with more broad-minded pressure from the White House, may serve to amplify the "cracks" that Fox News reported to be showing in the "Iran deal coalition" on Tuesday. Officials have previously boasted of increasing their missile range and have specifically highlighted their supposed ability to strike USA bases in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, and elsewhere.

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