Iran will not accept any limitations on its missile program, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said on December 16 after United Nations experts concluded Tehran had violated UN missile sanctions by testing an Emad rocket.
"We tested Emad to show the world that the Islamic Republic will only act based on its national interests and no country or power can impose its will on us," Dehghan said on the ministry's website.
Dehghan called Emad a "conventional missile," repeating Iran's contention that the projectile was not designed to carry nuclear weapons and Iran does not intend to use it that way.
"Since the nuclear deal we have not stopped our [missile] tests, production and research even for a day, an hour or a second," he added.
Iran insists a missile must be specifically "designed" to carry a nuclear payload, not simply "capable of" doing so, to be in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, which prohibits Tehran from launching ballistic missiles that can deliver nuclear weapons.
The Council's panel of experts on Iran determined otherwise, however, concluding that Iran's October 10 missile test violated the resolution.
The United States has vowed to push for enforcement of the sanctions, along with Britain, Germany, and France. Russia and China have been reluctant to enforce the missile sanctions, however.
Most U.S. Republican senators on December 16 cited the UN report finding Iran in violation as evidence of Iran's "blatant disregard" for international obligations and said the United States should not lift economic sanctions on Tehran next year as called for under a July nuclear agreement with world powers.
"It is a mistake to treat Iran's ballistic missile program as separate from Iran's nuclear program," 36 of the U.S. Senate's 54 Republicans said in a letter to President Barack Obama.
The senators said the ballistic missiles that Iran is testing will enhance Tehran's ability to target Israel and U.S. troops in the region. Iran has one of the largest missile programs in the Middle East.
With reporting by AFP and Reuters