by Ryan Maass
Washington (UPI) Jan 6, 2016
Iran broadcast footage on state-owned television showing a ballistic missile bunker in a move that may further strain tensions in the region and with the West.
The video shows Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Revolutionary Guard officers inspecting the Emad precision-guided missile. The missile, which has a claimed range of over 1,000 miles, has been a target of Western criticism of Iran's nuclear program.
The video release comes as the United States and its Western allies remain critical of Iran's nuclear program, saying the country violated a U.N. mandate by test-firing a ballistic missile in October. According to U.N. officials, the ballistic missile in question is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
Despite U.S. threats of more economic sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the Defense Ministry to expand the country's ballistic missile program.
Under the agreement, Iran is prohibited from carrying out work designed to carry nuclear warheads. Iran maintains ballistic missiles are conventional weapons, therefore not designed to carry nuclear warheads even if they are capable of delivering them. However, the U.N. resolution that authorized the deal also prohibits the country from testing ballistic weapons until it goes into effect.
With the easing of sanctions under the agreement, Iran is set to return to the oil market. Tensions have spiked recently between longtime rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, both key members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries at odds over production levels.
Saudi Arabia and its allies in the region have cut diplomatic ties with Iran following an attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran in response to the Sunni kingdom's recent execution of more than 40 people, including prominent Shiite cleric Nirm al-Nimr.
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