Iran warns US not to ‘create new tensions’ over missiles
TEHRANIran on Tuesday warned the United States against “creating new tensions” over its ballistic missile tests as Washington called for urgent talks at the UN Security Council on the issue.
“We hope that Iran’s defense program is not used by the new U.S. administration... as a pretext to create new tensions,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by AFP in a televised press conference with visiting French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.
The U.N. Security Council is due to hold emergency talks called by Washington on Jan. 31 on Iran’s recent test-firing of a medium-range missile, which Tehran has not confirmed.
The row comes against a backdrop of already-strained relations over U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries.
The European Union appealed to Tehran to refrain from activities such as the missile tests “which deepen mistrust.”
But the diplomatic push by the West quickly ran into trouble as Russia said a missile test would not breach a U.N. resolution on Iran’s nuclear program.
“Such actions, if they took place, do not breach the resolution,” Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax news agency.
Moscow, which is fighting alongside Tehran’s forces in Syria, said the demand for emergency talks at the Security Council was aimed at “heating up the situation.”
Tehran has neither confirmed nor denied firing any missiles over the weekend.
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.”