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Iran: missile tests do not violate nuclear deal

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard test-launched two ballistic missiles emblazoned with the phrase ‘Israel must be wiped out’ in Hebrew

Published: Updated:

Iran’s foreign ministry insisted on Thursday that the missile tests carried out by the country’s Revolutionary Guard this week do not violate Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers or a U.N. Security Council resolution.

According to ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, the missiles were “conventional defensive instruments and they were merely for legitimate defense,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard test-launched two ballistic missiles on Wednesday emblazoned with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” in Hebrew - a show of power by the Shiite nation, long an opponent of Israel.

It was the latest in a series of recent tests, aimed at demonstrating Iran’s intentions to push ahead with its ballistic program after scaling backing its nuclear program under the deal reached last year with the U.S. and other world powers.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry condemned the launch, saying it did violate the U.N. resolution and that it shows that Iran “continues to dismiss the international community’s demands and to develop its aggressive capabilities.” In a statement Thursday, the ministry called on the world to “react firmly and decisively” against further Iranian missile launches.

However, Ansari said the test-firing “did not defy the Security Council resolution” and added that Iran will continue its missile program. He also said Iran will remain committed to its international obligations.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not compromise over its security and defensive power,” said Ansari.

“It will continue it’s completely defensive and legitimate missile program while observing its international commitments and without entering into the fields of either nuclear warheads or designing missiles capable of carrying such warheads,” he added.

UN urges Iran to act with restraint

In reaction, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reacted to Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests by urging Tehran to act with moderation and restraint and to avoid increasing regional tensions, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday.

“In the current political atmosphere in the Middle East region, and so soon after the positive news of the lifting of sanctions against Iran, the secretary-general calls ... Iran to act with moderation, caution and the good sense not to increase tensions through hasty actions,” Dujarric told reporters.

Dujarric noted that it is up to the 15-nation council to examine issues related to resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

The United States has said Iran’s missile tests do not violate the terms of an historic nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers, which resolution 2231, adopted in July 2015, endorsed. The U.N. missile restrictions and an arms embargo on Iran are not technically part of the nuclear agreement.

The landmark nuclear deal, under which Iran accepted to substantially cap its nuclear program, does not include provisions against missile launches. When it came into effect on Jan. 16, the Security Council lifted most U.N. sanctions against Tehran - including a ban it had imposed in 2010 on Iran testing missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

That ban likely would have covered some of the missile fired this week. To deal with the restrictions in the nuclear agreement, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution last July which among other measures “calls on” Iran not to carry out such tests.

Late Wednesday, the head of the airspace division of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Amir Ali Hejazi, told state TV that the Hebrew markings on the missiles tested earlier in the day were “a choice by colleagues” who worked on the missiles, indicating it was not an official, high-level decision.