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Europeans mount pressure on Iran over ballistic missile 

Iran's new Sayyad-3 air defence missiles seen at their new production facility, unveiled on July 22, 2017. The Sayyad-3 missiles are able to travel 75 miles and reach an altitude of 17 miles. [Iranian Ministry of Defence]
Iran's new air defence missiles seen at their production facility on 22 July 2017 [Iranian Ministry of Defence]

Iran has been sharply rebuked by Britain, France and Germany over its testing of ballistic missiles. In a letter to the UN, the European countries alleged that the Islamic Republic was behaving in a manner that contravened the 2015 UN Security Council resolution which called on Tehran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

In the letter sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, ambassadors from the three European nations claimed that “Iran’s developments of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles” went against UN Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Iran, however, strongly rejects the claim that its ballistic missile program is in contravention of the 2015 nuclear deal and instead accused European partners to the landmark agreement of failing to honour their commitment. The US unliterally withdrew in 2018 and left the Europeans to pick up the pieces. Since the withdrawal and President Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate sanctions, the four other signatories have taken a number of measures to prevent the strained deal from collapsing totally.

READ: Obama calls Trump’s decision on Iran nuclear deal ‘misguided’

The letter repeated what has been one of Washington’s reasons for walking away from the deal. “France, Germany and the United Kingdom assert once again our firm conclusion that Iran’s development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and related technologies is inconsistent” with the missile provision in the council resolution, said the letter.

That provision urges Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” But it does not require Tehran to halt such activity, and the Iranian government insists all its missile activities are legal and not nuclear-related. It’s also understood that the language used in the provision concerning ballistic missile testing is not legally binding and cannot be enforced with punitive measures.

A number of examples were cited in the letter by the Europeans as evidence of Iranian contravention. The Security Council has scheduled a 19 December meeting to discuss implementation of the 2015 resolution on the Iran nuclear deal.

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