The United States issued a pre-emptive warning to Iran on Thursday against pursuing three planned space rocket launches that it said would violate a UN Security Council resolution because they use ballistic missile technology.
Iran rejected the warning, issued by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying its space vehicle launches and missile tests were not violations.
Pompeo said Iran planned to launch in the coming months three rockets, called Space Launch Vehicles (SLV), that he said incorporate technology "virtually identical" to what is used in intercontinental ballistic missiles.
#Iran plans to fire off Space Launch Vehicles with virtually same technology as ICBMs. The launch will advance its missile program. US, France, UK & Germany have already stated this is in defiance of UNSCR 2231. We won't stand by while the regime threatens international security.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 3, 2019
"The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime's destructive policies place international stability and security at risk," Pompeo said in a statement.
"We advise the regime to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation."
Pompeo said the rocket launches would violate UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
It calls upon Iran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, but does not explicitly bar such activity.
Iran has repeatedly rejected US accusations about its ballistic missile tests, including the firing of space
"Iran's launch of space vehicles - & missile tests - are NOT in violation of (Resolution) 2231. The US is in material breach of same, & as such it is in no position to lecture anyone on it," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in Twitter post on Thursday.
Iran's launch of space vehicles— & missile tests—are NOT in violation of Res 2231. The US is in material breach of same, & as such it is in no position to lecture anyone on it.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 3, 2019
Reminder to the US:
1. Res 1929 is dead;
2. threats engender threats, while civility begets civility. pic.twitter.com/9niN852Jii
Tehran denies it has missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.
Pompeo said Iran has launched ballistic missiles numerous times since the UN resolution was adopted. He said it test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads on Dec. 1.
President Donald Trump decided in May to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.