Iran warns US not to ‘create new tensions’ over missiles
TEHRAN: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday warned the United States against “creating new tensions” with Tehran over ballistic missile tests.
“We hope that Iran’s defense program is not used by the new US administration… as a pretext to create new tensions,” Zarif said in a televised press conference with visiting French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, condemned Iran on Monday and said he would work with other lawmakers and the Trump administration to hold Iran accountable.
Zarif spelled out Tehran’s stance after a US official said Iran on Sunday test-launched a medium-range ballistic missile that exploded after 630 miles (1,010 km).
Ayrault told reporters France had voiced its concerns over the Iranian test, adding that it harmed the international community’s confidence in Tehran and contravened UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
That resolution ratified a July 2015 accord between Iran and six world powers under which it scaled back its nuclear activity to defuse concerns it could be put to making atomic bombs; in return, Iran won relief from crippling economic sanctions.
Zarif neither confirmed nor denied the US report that it tested a ballistic missile on Sunday but added: “The missiles aren’t part of the nuclear accords. Iran will never use missiles produced in Iran to attack any other country.”
“No Iranian missiles have been produced to carry nuclear warheads,” said Zarif.
The UN Security Council is due to hold emergency talks called by Washington on Tuesday on Iran’s recent test-firing, which Tehran has not confirmed.
Zarif said Washington — under former president Barack Obama — and Paris had “repeatedly confirmed” that Iran’s missiles are not part of a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
Iran says its missiles do not breach United Nations resolutions because they are for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.
“We have always declared that we will never use our weapons against others except in our defense,” Zarif said.
Ayrault said France had expressed its concerns over the missile tests.
“France has expressed its concern at Iran’s continuation of its ballistic missile tests on several occasions,” he said.
He said the continued tests are “contrary to the spirit” of the Security Council resolution which enshrined a landmark July 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, and “hamper the process of restoring the confidence established by the Vienna agreement.”
Ayrault said at the start of his two-day trip to Tehran on Monday that France would act as a defender of the nuclear deal that new US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear up.
But Ayrault added it was imperative the Islamic Republic abide strictly by the conditions of the accord. Ayrault said it was in the “common interest” that all sides heeded the deal.
The United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France were parties to the deal. Paris took one of the hardest lines against Tehran in the negotiations, but has been quick to restore trade relations since then.