Iran's Guards say missile programme will accelerate despite pressure
Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards said yesterday that the country's ballistic missile programme would accelerate despite pressure from the United States and European Union to suspend it, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
In a major U.S. policy shift, President Donald Trump on Oct. 13 refused to certify Tehran's compliance with a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, signalling he would take a more aggressive approach to Iran over its ballistic missile programme.
"Iran's ballistic missile programme will expand and it will continue with more speed in reaction to Trump's hostile approach towards this revolutionary organisation [the Guards]," the Guards said in a statement published by Tasnim.
Tehran has repeatedly pledged to continue what it calls a defensive missile capability in defiance of Western criticism.
A day earlier, Washington accused Iran of violating several United Nations Security Council resolutions, saying it would no longer “turn a blind eye” and asking the 15-member council of Tehran’s behavior: “where’s the outrage?”
“Judging Iran by the narrow confines of the nuclear deal misses the true nature of the threat. Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilizing, and unlawful behavior. To do otherwise would be foolish,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council.
Most sanctions on Iran were lifted at the start of 2016 under the nuclear deal enshrined in a U.N. Security Council resolution. The resolution still subjects Tehran to a U.N. arms embargo and other restrictions that are technically not part of the nuclear deal.
“The regime continues to play this council. Iran hides behind its assertion of technical compliance with the nuclear deal while it brazenly violates the other limits on its behavior,” Haley told the Security Council.
“Where’s the outrage of this council?” she said. “The United States will not turn a blind eye to these violations.”
During a Security Council meeting traditionally focused on Israel and the Palestinians, Haley spoke exclusively about Iran, leading her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia to later ask: “Perhaps they confused the agenda item?”
The U.N. chief is required to report every six months to the council on violations of the remaining sanctions and curbs on Iran. Concerns have been raised that Iran may have violated the arms embargo and that ballistic missile launches were “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal.
Haley also accused Iran of violating Security Council resolutions on Lebanon and Yemen.
No council members have proposed taking any action against Iran. Diplomats say veto-powers Russia and China were unlikely to agree to more measures.
“If we had hegemonic ambitions the nuclear deal would never have been reached. The new U.S. administration approach and the recent dangerous strategy toward the deal and Iran runs counter to the will of the international community,” Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo told the Security Council.