Iran rules out halt to mis­sile tests as ten­sion with US rises

Muscat Daily - - NATION -

Tehran, Iran - A de­fi­ant Iran vowed on Satur­day to press ahead with its mis­sile pro­gramme and con­demned new US sanc­tions, as ten­sions rise af­ter the West hard­ened its tone against the Is­lamic repub­lic.

Ira­nian For­eign Min­istry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told state broad­caster IRIB that Tehran con­demned new US sanc­tions against its mis­sile pro­gramme, which Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is set to sign into law, and vowed to press on.

“We will con­tinue with full power our mis­sile pro­gramme,” he said. “We con­sider the ac­tion by the US as hos­tile, rep­re­hen­si­ble and un­ac­cept­able, and it’s ul­ti­mately an ef­fort to weaken the nu­clear deal.”

Ghasemi was re­fer­ring to a 2015 agree­ment be­tween Iran and US-led world pow­ers that lifted some sanc­tions on Tehran in re­turn for curbs on the coun­try’s nu­clear pro­gramme.

“The mil­i­tary and mis­sile fields... are our do­mes­tic poli­cies and oth­ers have no right to in­ter­vene or com­ment on them,” the spokesman said.

The sanc­tions bill, which also tar­gets Rus­sia and North Korea, was passed by the US Se­nate on Thurs­day, two days af­ter be­ing ap­proved by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Sep­a­rately on Fri­day, Wash­ing­ton im­posed new sanc­tions tar­get­ing Iran’s mis­sile pro­gramme, one day af­ter Tehran tested a satel­lite-launch rocket.

Ira­nian state tele­vi­sion broad- cast footage of the take­off from the Imam Khome­ini space cen­tre in Sem­nan prov­ince in the east of the coun­try.

The launch ve­hi­cle was ca­pa­ble of pro­pel­ling a satel­lite weigh­ing 250kg into or­bit at an al­ti­tude of 500km, it said.

‘Desta­bil­is­ing’ ac­tion

West­ern gov­ern­ments sus­pect Iran of try­ing to de­velop the tech­nol­ogy for longer-range mis­siles with con­ven­tional or nu­clear pay­loads, a charge de­nied by Tehran, which in­sists its space pro­gramme has purely peace­ful aims.

In a joint state­ment, Bri­tain, France, Ger­many and the US con­demned Tehran’s ‘provoca­tive’ and ‘desta­bil­is­ing’ ac­tion, say­ing the test was in vi­o­la­tion of UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 2231 that en­dorsed the nu­clear deal. “We call on Iran not to con­duct any fur­ther bal­lis­tic mis­sile launches and re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties,” they said.

Res­o­lu­tion 2231 called on Iran not to test bal­lis­tic mis­siles ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing a nu­clear war­head and an arms em­bargo has re­mained in place. The US has had no diplo­matic ties with the Iran since 1980, and Trump has halted the di­rect con­tacts ini­ti­ated by his pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama.

(AFP)

This photo re­leased by Iran’s De­fence Min­istry on Thurs­day shows a Si­morgh (Phoenix) satel­lite rocket lift­ing off from an undis­closed lo­ca­tion in Iran

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