By Carole LANDRY
United Nations, United States (AFP) Aug 2, 2017
The United States, backed by France, Britain and Germany, on Wednesday pushed for action at the UN Security Council following Iran's launch of a satellite that all four countries described as a threatening and provocative step.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley argued in a letter to the Security Council that the Simorgh space launch vehicle system, "if configured as a ballistic missile," would have a range and enough payload capacity to carry a nuclear warhead.
"This launch therefore represents a threatening and provocative step by Iran," said the letter from Haley on behalf of the four countries.
Iran launched the rocket on July 27, prompting the United States to impose sanctions on six companies that Washington said were linked to Iran's missile program.
"Iran's longstanding program to develop ballistic missiles continues to be inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and has a destabilizing effect in the region," said the letter seen by AFP.
Resolution 2231 was passed two years ago to endorse a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
Under that resolution which lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear program, Tehran is "called upon" to refrain from carrying out launches of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran has repeatedly said that it is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons and is not in violation of the resolution.
President Donald Trump has threatened to scrap the nuclear agreement, but Britain, France and Germany have defended it and argued to the US administration that it should be salvaged.
"Our friends and allies in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany join us in calling out and condemning Iran's destructive and threatening actions," Haley said about the joint letter.
"The world must not allow Iran to act in defiance of the Security Council and its resolutions. The United States will be vigilant in ensuring that Iran is held accountable for such behavior."
- What action should be taken -
The four countries argued in the letter that the technology necessary for the space launch vehicle was "closely related to those of ballistic missiles, in particular to those of an intercontinental ballistic missile."
The letter stressed that the missile technology control regime defined any ballistic missile system with a 500 kilogram payload and a range of at least 300 kilometers as being capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.
This information should "allow the council to draw informed and timely conclusion as to what action should be taken," said the letter.
Haley has repeatedly called on the council to respond to Iran's missile tests, but Russia has said Iran is not in violation of the resolution.
The four countries called on Iran to "immediately cease" all ballistic missile activities and said the international community must also "send a clear message to Iran."
They requested that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres report to the council on Iran's ballistic missile and space launch activities.
Iran's foreign ministry on Saturday said it will continue "with full power" its missile program and accused the US administration of seeking to weaken the nuclear deal.
Despite its criticism, the US administration has certified that Iran was in compliance with the agreement.
Tehran (AFP) July 29, 2017
Tehran and Washington Saturday accused each other's naval forces of provocative maneuvers in the Gulf that culminated in a US helicopter firing warning flares at Iranian vessels, the latest close encounter between the countries in recent months. The US Navy said it had reacted to unresponsive vessels belonging to the Revolutionary Guards closing in on American ships at high speed, a charge d ... read more
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