Anti-Iran Remarks by Merkel, Ban Suspicious

Anti-Iran Remarks by Merkel, Ban SuspiciousAnti-Iran Remarks by Merkel, Ban Suspicious

A senior official warned that recent allegations made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon against Iran's missile program indicate an anti-Iran plot is probably in the making.

Denouncing "strange words" by Merkel and Ban, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was also quoted as saying by IRIB News as saying, "I feel they [western powers] are plotting against us and we should be alert."

Merkel, in a speech to parliament on Thursday, claimed Iran's ballistic missile launches earlier this year violated UN Resolution 2231 that bars Tehran from working on missiles designed to carry nuclear weapons for eight years.

"Iran continued unabated to develop its rocket program in conflict with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council," Merkel was quoted as saying by AP.

Reuters also reported on Thursday that a confidential report by Ban to the UN Security Council says Iran's missile tests were inconsistent "with the constructive spirit" of the nuclear deal under which Iran curbed sensitive nuclear activity and won sanctions relief in return.

This is while the UN resolution, which was passed last January to endorse the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, only "calls upon" Iran to refrain from work on missiles "designed" to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

Iran conducted ballistic missile tests in early March and called them a demonstration of its non-nuclear deterrent power.

*** No Need for Clandestine Efforts

Salehi also touched on a German intelligence report, published by the domestic intelligence agency for North Rhine-Westphalia last Monday, that alleged it has spotted frequent nuclear and missile procurement attempts by Iran in the state last year.

Salehi, also a vice president, said Iran has no need to engage in clandestine efforts to obtain nuclear equipment, because there is a channel under the nuclear pact through which it can legally purchase them.

"The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran does not need to buy black market equipment that has a higher price and risk of [radioactive] contamination," he said. "We can [officially] purchase original pieces of equipment quicker, easier, in a more reliable way and at a cheaper price."

A separate report by the German intelligence agency also said last month that Iran has defied the nuclear pact it struck with world powers by trying to acquire nuclear technology in Germany.

The report of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution found that despite the deal, Iran has "continued" its "illegal proliferation-sensitive procurement activities" at a "quantitatively high level" in 2015.

Tehran must get permission from a UN Security Council panel to obtain "nuclear direct-use goods," but did not do so to purchase the nuclear-related items in Germany, according to the German intelligence report.

*** Unconstructive, Unrealistic

The Iranian Foreign Ministry's spokesman dismissed Merkel's remarks as "unconstructive".

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has frequently announced that its missile program is totally defensive," Bahram Qasemi said in a Saturday statement released by the Foreign Ministry.

"[Our missiles] have never been designed to accommodate nuclear warheads, so [testing them] is not a violation of the UN resolution and nuclear pact.

"Once again, Iran says it will strongly continue its missile program based on its defense doctrine and national security calculations," he said.

Iran also rejected as "unrealistic" the report by the UN chief that criticized its ballistic missile launches.

Tasnim News Agency reported an unnamed Foreign Ministry official as saying on Friday that "we suggest that Mr. Ban and his colleagues ... produce a realistic report ... They should not yield to political pressure from some members of the [Security] Council."

Ban's report stopped short of calling the missile launches a "violation" of Resolution 2231 and said it was up to the UN Security Council to decide. The council is due to discuss Ban's report on July 18.

Days after Iran's missile launches, the United States and its European allies claimed that by testing missiles they claimed were nuclear-capable, Tehran had defied the resolution and urged Ban to tackle the issue.

*** No Indication of Violation

The US State Department said the German intelligence report is not saying Iran has violated the nuclear deal and the US has no such indication, too.

"We have no information to indicate that Iran has procured any materials in violation" of the nuclear accord, the department's website quoted its spokesperson, John Kirby, as saying in a Friday press briefing.

"We understand that Germany shares this view and is not suggesting that Iran has violated its JCPOA commitments."