US, Europe push UN for action over Iran rocket launch

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The United States, backed by France, Bri­tain and Ger­many yes­ter­day pushed for action at the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil fol­low­ing Iran’s launch of a satel­lite rocket, de­scribed by Wash­ing­ton as a threat­en­ing and provoca­tive step. US Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley ar­gued in a let­ter on be­half of the four coun­tries that the Si­morgh space launch ve­hi­cle sys­tem, “if con­fig­ured as a bal­lis­tic mis­sile” would have a range of over 300 kilo­me­ters and enough pay­load ca­pac­ity to carry a nu­clear war­head.

“This launch there­fore rep­re­sents a threat­en­ing and provoca­tive step by Iran,” said the let­ter seen by AFP. Iran launched the rocket on July 27, prompt­ing the United States to im­pose sanc­tions on six com­pa­nies that Wash­ing­ton said were linked to Iran’s mis­sile pro­gram. “Iran’s long­stand­ing pro­gram to de­velop bal­lis­tic mis­siles con­tin­ues to be in­con­sis­tent with UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 2231 and has a desta­bi­liz­ing ef­fect in the re­gion,” said the let­ter.

Res­o­lu­tion 2231 was passed two years ago to en­dorse a land­mark 2015 nu­clear deal between Iran, Bri­tain, China, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia and the United States. Un­der that res­o­lu­tion which lifted sanc­tions in ex­change for curbs on Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram, Tehran is “called upon” to re­frain from car­ry­ing out launches of mis­siles ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing nu­clear weapons.

What action should be taken

Iran has re­peat­edly said that it is not seek­ing to de­velop nu­clear weapons and is not in vi­o­la­tion of the res­o­lu­tion. In the let­ter, the United States said the tech­nol­ogy nec­es­sary for the space launch ve­hi­cle was “closely re­lated to those of bal­lis­tic mis­siles, in par­tic­u­lar to those of an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile.” It ar­gued that the mis­sile tech­nol­ogy con­trol regime de­fined any bal­lis­tic mis­sile sys­tem with a 500 kilo­gram pay­load and a range of at least 300 kilo­me­ters as be­ing ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing a nu­clear weapon.

This in­for­ma­tion should “al­low the coun­cil to draw in­formed and timely con­clu­sion as to what action should be taken,” said the let­ter. Ha­ley has re­peat­edly called on the coun­cil to re­spond to Iran’s mis­sile tests, but Rus­sia has said Iran is not in vi­o­la­tion of the res­o­lu­tion. The four coun­tries called on Iran to “im­me­di­ately cease” all bal­lis­tic mis­sile ac­tiv­i­ties and said the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity must also “send a clear mes­sage to Iran.”

They re­quested that UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res re­port to the coun­cil on Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile and space launch ac­tiv­i­ties. Iran’s for­eign min­istry on Satur­day said it will con­tinue “with full power” its mis­sile pro­gram and crit­i­cized the US sanc­tions as “hos­tile, rep­re­hen­si­ble and un­ac­cept­able.” Tehran has ac­cused the US ad­min­is­tra­tion of seek­ing to weaken the nu­clear deal that US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump branded “the worst deal ever” dur­ing his elec­tion cam­paign. De­spite crit­i­cism of the nu­clear deal, the US ad­min­is­tra­tion has cer­ti­fied that Iran was in com­pli­ance with the agree­ment.—AFP

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