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U.S. Readies Response To Iran's 'Clear Violation' Of UN Missile Sanctions

  • RFE/RL

A picture released on October 11 by Iran's Defense Ministry on their website reportedly shows the launch of an Emad missile during tests at an undisclosed location in Iran.

A picture released on October 11 by Iran's Defense Ministry on their website reportedly shows the launch of an Emad missile during tests at an undisclosed location in Iran.

The United States has vowed to raise before the United Nations Security Council Iran's "clear violation" of a ban on testing ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear weapons.

"Iran launched on October 10 a medium-range ballistic missile inherently capable of delivering a nuclear weapon," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said on October 16.

"This was a clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929," which bans such tests by Iran.

The United States is preparing a report on the incident for the Security Council's Iran Sanctions Committee and will raise the matter directly with Security Council members "in the coming days," Power said.

"There are costs to bad behavior in the region and around the world," U.S. President Barack Obama said at the White House.

"Iran has often violated some of the prohibitions surrounding missile testing," he said. "So we are going to have to continue to put pressure on them through the international community."

Iran denied the charges. "None of the missiles are designed to carry nuclear warheads, so they therefore do not violate the UN resolution," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Iranian news agency IRNA.

The UN measures explicitly allow Iran to take necessary steps to stengthen its military defenses, he said.

Iran's defense minister, General Hossein Dehghan, told state television after the launch that the liquid-fuel missile "will obviously boost the strategic deterrence capability of our armed forces."

He said the missile, named Emad or pillar in Persian, was a technological achievement for Iran -- able to be controlled until the moment of impact and to hit long-range targets "with high precision."

Following the test, Iran in an unprecedented move this week showed off on Iranian TV an arsenal of missiles buried deep underground, and said it had many more such missiles buried elsewhere around the country.

U.S. officials point out that the ban on Iranian missile tests was adopted in 2010 and remains valid until a nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers goes into effect.

"The Security Council prohibition on Iran's ballistic missile activities, as well as the arms embargo, remain in place," Power said. "We will continue to press the Security Council for an appropriate response to Iran's disregard for its international obligations."

UN diplomats have said it is possible to sanction additional Iranian individuals or entities by adding them to an existing UN blacklist. However, they note that Russia and China have opposed the sanctions on Iran's missile program and might block any such moves using their veto power.

After Iran has complied with restrictions on its nuclear activities required under the July 14 nuclear deal and it goes into effect, most sanctions on Iran will be lifted.

But Iran will still be called upon to refrain from undertaking any work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for a period of up to eight years.

Countries would be allowed to transfer missile technology and heavy weapons to Iran on a case-by-case basis with council approval. But the United States has vowed to veto any such transfers that come before the council.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa
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