Missile Tests Do Not Violate JCPOA, UN Resolution

Missile Tests Do Not Violate JCPOA, UN ResolutionMissile Tests Do Not Violate JCPOA, UN Resolution

The Foreign Ministry said on Thursday the test-firing of ballistic missiles earlier this week is not a violation of last year's landmark nuclear deal with major powers and the UN resolution adopted to endorse it.

"Iran's missile program and its test of missiles in the past few days during a military exercise are not against its nuclear commitments and the nuclear deal," state television quoted the ministry's spokesperson, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, as saying.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps test-fired several ballistic missiles on Tuesday and Wednesday. The tests are seen by some western officials as a challenge to a United Nations resolution and the July 14, 2015, nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Iran's missile program is subject to UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that calls on the Islamic Republic not to develop missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.

"All of Iran's short-, mid- and long-range missiles, including the ballistic missiles fired in the military drill are meant only for use as conventional tools of self-defense and none has been designed with the capability to deliver nuclear warheads," Ansari said.

"So the Islamic Republic of Iran's missile program is not in breach of the terms and annexes of Resolution 2231."

The resolution was adopted by the council to endorse the nuclear agreement announced by Iran and major powers days earlier and terminate all previous UN resolutions against Tehran.

The JCPOA went into effect nearly two months ago to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

Shortly afterward, Washington imposed sanctions against businesses and individuals linked to Iran's missile program over the testing of the medium-range Emad missile carried out in October 2015.

  No Kerry-Zarif Phone Call

A US State Department spokesman said on Wednesday Secretary of State John Kerry had called his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss Tehran's latest round of missile tests, Reuters reported.

But an unnamed Iranian source denied the following day that the issue had been discussed between the top diplomats.

"John Kerry has sent emails to Zarif asking for a telephone call to discuss issues, including Iran's missile tests, but it did not happen because Zarif is on an official visit," the source told ISNA.

Zarif has been on an Asia-Pacific tour since past one week.

A senior IRGC commander said in an interview with state television that Iran will not halt its ballistic missile program "under any circumstances" and that Tehran has missiles ready to be fired.

Lieutenant General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, "The IRGC has never accepted the UN Security Council resolutions on Iran's missile activities. We are always prepared to defend the country against any aggressor. Iran will not turn into Yemen, Iraq or Syria."

Hajizadeh who heads the IRGC aerospace division, said some of the missiles carried 24 warheads and one ton of TNT.

He said Iran had no intention of starting a war, "but the Zionist regime [Israel] is our enemy and we don't trust American officials".

"We have underground tunnels around the country and under mountains, where we store our missiles ... These tunnels cannot be destroyed even if targeted by atomic bombs," he said.

State television in October aired footage of long tunnels with ready-to-fire missiles on the back of trucks, saying the facility was one of hundreds of underground missile bases around the country.

The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies has said the IRGC maintains an arsenal of dozens of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles—the largest in the Middle East.

  Call for Moderation

The tests have drawn international reactions, including a call by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tehran to act "with moderation", cautioning that such "hasty" moves could further intensify regional tensions, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

"In the current political atmosphere in the Middle East region, and so soon after the positive news of the lifting of sanctions against Iran, the secretary-general calls ... Iran to act with moderation, caution and the good sense not to increase tensions through hasty actions," Dujarric told reporters, according to Reuters.

The United States, France and other countries claimed the launches of the ballistic missiles, if confirmed to be nuclear-capable, would be a violation of a UN Security Council resolution.

Dujarric noted that it is up to the 15-nation council to examine issues related to Resolution 2231.

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton on Wednesday called for fresh punitive sanctions against Iran.

Clinton, a former secretary of state under President Barack Obama, said she was "deeply concerned" by the tests.

"Iran should face sanctions for these activities," she said.