Iran says missile program is defensive amid heightened allegations, evidence

Iran said on Sunday its missile program is defensive and not in breach of UN resolutions, the state news agency IRNA said, following a US allegation that Tehran had carried out a new missile test.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday condemned what he described as Iran’s testing of a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads as a violation of the 2015 international agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.

“Iran’s missile program is defensive in nature… There is no Security Council resolution prohibiting the missile program and missile tests by Iran,” IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying in response to Pompeo’s remarks.

Qasemi did not confirm or deny that Iran had carried out a new missile test.

Under the UN resolution enshrining the 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, Iran is “called upon” to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Iran has repeatedly said its missile program is purely defensive and denied its missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads.

President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the nuclear deal, approved before he took office, in May and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran. Trump said the deal was flawed as it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for armed proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

The US’s International Institute for Strategic Studies had released a report stating that Iran was using a space program to disguise its building of missiles.

“Indeed, no country has converted a liquid-fuel, satellite-launch vehicle into a long-range ballistic missile. Yet allowing Iran to continue developing and launching large rockets in support of its space program is not risk-free,” the report stated.

The center affirmed that Iran has the largest arsenal of missiles in the Middle East, including short and medium-range missiles, and cruise missiles that can reach Europe.

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