EU Not Considering Missile Sanctions on Iran

EU Not Considering Missile Sanctions on Iran EU Not Considering Missile Sanctions on Iran

Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests are not in violation of its nuclear deal and the European Union is not considering sanctions at this stage, EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said on Monday.

Mogherini, however, said last week’s missile tests, which Tehran says are not aimed at developing nuclear weapons capability, could raise tensions in an already volatile region, AFP reported.

France had warned on Sunday that it risked new sanctions as a result of the tests, but Mogherini said that was a matter for the UN Security Council, which met to discuss the issue on Monday, to decide.

“This is indeed also in our view not a violation of the [nuclear deal] as such,” Mogherini said after meeting the foreign ministers of the 28 EU nations in Brussels.

“If there is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, this should be discussed in the appropriate UN bodies and not necessarily in the European Union Foreign Affairs Council.”

Russia had earlier Monday said it opposed any sanctions on Iran over the ballistic missile tests.

Mogherini said that “we expect Iran to fulfill all its international obligations.”

She added, “The point is we all see this as a major problematic element when it comes to regional relations... This would increase tensions in the Middle East at a moment when tensions are definitely not needed.”

The EU official announced earlier that she would go to Iran next month to build on the nuclear deal, which she helped secure.

Mogherini last visited Iran in July shortly after world powers agreed to lift sanctions in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program.

Under the July 2015 nuclear accord, the lifting of nuclear sanctions takes place progressively in line with Tehran meeting its commitments.                               

A key provision allows the sanctions to be restored or “snapback” immediately if Iran is found in breach of the agreement.

  Missiles Meant for Self-Defense

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday Iran’s ballistic missiles were for self-defense and that recent tests did not violate the historic nuclear deal. Speaking in Australia, Zarif said the missiles tested would never be used in aggression.

The tests drew international reaction and prompted the Monday meeting of the 15-nation UN Security Council.

“These missiles do not even fall within the purview of Resolution 2231 and they are not illegal,” he told reporters, referring to the council resolution, adopted last July to endorse the nuclear pact, according to Reuters.

“Iran will never use any means to attack any country, including our missiles. These are only for our defense.”

  US Pushing for Action

The United States on Monday vowed to continue pushing for UNSC action on Iran’s ballistic missile tests and accused Russia of looking for reasons not to respond to alleged Iranian violations of the UN resolution.

“This merits a council response,” US Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters after the closed-door meeting of the Security Council.

“Russia seems to be lawyering its way to look for reasons not to act,” she said. “We’re not going to give up at the Security Council, no matter the quibbling that we heard today about this and that.”

Power was referring to comments from Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin who made clear that in the view of veto-wielding Russia, Iran’s ballistic missile tests did not violate Resolution 2231.

“A call is different from a ban, so legally you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call,” Churkin said. “The legal distinction is there.”

Resolution 2231 “calls upon” Iran to refrain from certain ballistic missile activity. Western nations see that as a clear ban, though council diplomats say China and other council members agree with Russia’s and Iran’s view that such work is not banned.

Iran’s UN mission issued a statement opposing Monday’s council discussion of its missile tests.