Iran rules out halt to missile tests as tension with US rises
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.
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.
This photo released by Iran’s Defence Ministry on Thursday shows a Simorgh (Phoenix) satellite rocket lifting off from an undisclosed location in Iran