Military officials in Iran have confirmed the country tested a medium-range ballistic missile on January 29, but continued to deny that the test violated a UN Security Council resolution forbidding the testing of nuclear-capable weapons systems.
Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said on February 1 that “the recent missile test is in line with our plans and we will not let any foreigner meddle with our defense issues." Dehghan said that test did not violate the Security Council resolution or Iran’s nuclear deal with leading international powers.
The United States has warned Iran that the test was "absolutely unacceptable."
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley issued the warning at a special closed-door session of the UN Security Council on January 31.
"We have confirmed that Iran did have a medium-size missile launch testing on January 29, on Sunday. This is absolutely unacceptable," Haley told reporters in New York.
She challenged Iran's assertion that its missiles are not in violation of a UN resolution passed after the 2015 nuclear accord was signed. Iran says that they are for defense only and that it does not intend to put nuclear warheads in them.
"They know that they are not supposed to be doing ballistic missile testing" of anything that can carry warheads, said Haley.
She said the missile launched on January 29 was capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload and had a range of 300 kilometers, putting it in violation of the nuclear accord.
"That is more than enough to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon," she said.
Reuters quoted an unnamed U.S. official as saying the missile tested on January 29 traveled about 1,000 kilometers before exploding.
Iran is trying to convince the world that "they are being nice," Haley said, but "I will tell the people across the world that is something we should be alarmed about."
"The United States is not naive. We are not going to stand by. You will see us call them out," Haley said. "We are committed to making them understand that this is not anything that we will ever accept."
Haley said the United States wants to shut down supplies of missile technology to Tehran.
"No country should be supplying Iran with any of the technology allowing them to do that," she said.
The council did not officially endorse Haley's views, however. It requested a report on the missile launch from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and a UN committee dealing with Iranian issues, British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said.
He said council members had "very significant concern about the ballistic missile launch, which has now been confirmed."
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on January 31 said Iran’s missiles are "not designed for the capability of carrying a nuclear warhead... Our ballistic missile was designed to carry a normal warhead in the field of legitimate defense."
Zarif said he hopes the issue is not used as "an excuse for some political games by the new U.S. administration. The Iranian people would never allow their defense to be subject to the permission of others."
Also on February 1, some 220 members of the Iranian parliament adopted a resolution calling international outrage over the test "illogical" and defending the country’s missile program.
Iran has conducted several missile tests since the 2015 nuclear deal, but the January 29 launch was the first since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.
The United States and some European allies maintain that a longstanding UN prohibition against Iran's testing of missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads was reaffirmed and extended by the nuclear accord.
The resolution adopted after the July 2015 deal, which restricted Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, says that "Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles
designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."
A 2010 resolution. which was terminated after the deal was signed, had expressly barred Iran from undertaking work on "ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads."
With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters