TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iran has said it is determined to proceed with its ballistic missile program, as it rejected as a "desperate falsehood” the letter from three European countries accusing Tehran of developing missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads.
The ambassadors for the United Kingdom, Germany and France to the UN Security Council called on UN chief Antonio Guterres to inform the council in his next report that Iran’s missile program was "inconsistent” with a UN resolution underpinning a currently unraveling nuclear deal reached in 2015 between Iran and six world powers.
Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif on Friday referred to a statement issued by Washington to refute the allegations.
"Brian Hook (U.S. Special Representative for Iran) has given our E3 JCPOA partners a timely reminder, openly admitting that missile testing is NOT prohibited in Security Council Resolution 2231,” the foreign minister said in a tweet.
Zarif quoted a statement made by Hook during a State Department briefing on Thursday which said, "One of the deficiencies of the Iran nuclear deal is that it ended the prohibition on Iran’s ballistic missile testing.”
Zarif’s Friday remarks came in response to a letter authored by the European signatories of the deal, comprised of France, Germany and Britain, which circulated on Wednesday.
Britain, France and Germany claim Iran has "nuclear-capable ballistic missiles” and that its latest missile activities are "inconsistent” with a UN resolution that endorsed the accord.
The letter claimed that Iran’s latest missile activities were "inconsistent” with UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that endorsed the accord in 2015.
On Thursday, Zarif rejected the European accusations as a "desperate falsehood” seeking to cover up the EU3’s "miserable incompetence” in fulfilling their commitments under the accord.
Zarif also posted a letter written by the head of Iran’s mission to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi sent to Guterres detailing a legal response to the European accusations.
Ravanchi argued that Iran’s activities "related to space launch vehicles and ballistic missiles fall outside of the purview of competence of Resolution 2231 (2015) and its annexes.”
Washington withdrew from the multilateral nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions against Iran.
The Trump administration made the move demanding a "new deal” that would limit Iran’s defensive missile capabilities and regional anti-terrorism and defense cooperation with its regional allies.
At the time, European signatories of the deal vowed to make efforts to counter Washington’s sanctions and shield their trade relations with Tehran.
Those promises, however, were never delivered as Europe gave in to America’s pressure.
Tehran has since responded by reciprocally suspending its nuclear obligations as permitted by the JCPOA and pledged to go further if other signatories do not uphold Iran’s rights under the deal.
The remaining signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal met in Vienna. Envoys from Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran took part in the meeting, which was the first time the six parties have gathered in this format since July.
China’s envoy said European parties to the Iran nuclear deal did not trigger a mechanism that could lead to the renewal of UN sanctions at talks in Vienna on Friday.
"All countries need to refrain from taking actions that further complicate the situation,” Fu Cong, director general of the Department of Arms Control of the Chinese Foreign Ministry told reporters after the talks. "In our view there is an element of automaticity into this and we can’t be sure that countries can keep this process under control. It could aggravate tensions.”
He said the European powers had not indicated whether they would trigger the mechanism.
The UN Security Council is due to meet on December 20 to weigh the state of Iran’s compliance with the resolution in question, and the European letter "will add to that discussion”, a senior European diplomat told Reuters News Agency.
Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani warned Sunday that if European partners triggered the dispute mechanism, Tehran may "seriously reconsider” its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors the deal’s implementation.