Blasts ‘Misleading’ U.S. Accusations
UNITED NATIONS (Dispatches) — Russia defended on Thursday Iran’s right to launch a satellite, dismissing U.S. claims that Tehran was defying the UN resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers by sending it into space.
Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said that "the ongoing attempts of the United States side to deprive Iran of the right to reap the benefits of peaceful space technology under false pretexts are a cause for serious concern and profound regret”.
He dismissed as "misleading” U.S. accusations that the April 22 satellite launch carried out by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) went against the 2015 resolution, which calls on Iran not to undertake any ballistic missile-related activities capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
"Iran has never possessed nuclear weapons, nor does it possess these weapons now, nor, we expect, will it ever possess them in the future,” Nebenzia said in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council.
Since the Iran nuclear deal was adopted in 2015, he said, "Iran has been the most verified state by the International Atomic Energy Agency” and "it is an established fact that Iran does not possess, nor develop, nor test or use ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
The Russian ambassador was responding to a letter from U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft to the council president last month saying that "space launch vehicles incorporate technologies that are virtually identical to and interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons”.
Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have escalated since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018 and re-imposed crippling US sanctions. A year ago, the U.S. sent thousands more troops, long-range bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Middle East.
The satellite launch was a first for Iran’s IRGC. After its announcement, U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter, without citing any specific incident, "I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
Both Nebenzia and Craft called on the UN secretary-general to reflect their letters in his report on implementation of the 2015 Security Council resolution, which is due by June 23. The Security Council has scheduled an open briefing on the resolution for June 30 followed by closed consultations.
A UN arms embargo against Iran is set to expire in October and the United States circulated a draft UN resolution that would indefinitely extend it to a small number of council members in late April.
Nebenzia has said Moscow will oppose any U.S. attempts to extend the arms embargo and reimpose UN sanctions on Iran. He also dismissed as "ridiculous” the possibility of the Trump administration seeking to use the "snap back” provision in the 2015 council resolution, which would restore all UN sanctions against Iran that had been lifted or eased under the terms of the agreement if the nuclear deal is violated.
Nebenzia said the U.S. pulled out of the agreement and "they have no right” to use any of its provisions.
Separately, Russia said U.S. threats to sanction governments and companies if they facilitate supplies of Iranian oil to Venezuela are unacceptable.
"Certain warnings voiced a few days ago by the U.S. administration to governments around the world regarding any cooperation in Iran oil supplies to Venezuela go beyond any acceptable limits,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
The diplomat said the application of restrictive measures against Caracas affects Venezuela’s economy and social sphere. "From the international law viewpoint, this is one of the clearest examples of illegitimate nature of such steps which are exacerbated by the difficult epidemiological situation in the world,” she said.