US says Iran's missile test didn't violate nuclear deal

White House press secretary Josh Earnest says Iran’s ballistic missile tests are not violation of nuclear agreement

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

Updated Mar 9, 2016

Iran's recent ballistic missile tests did not violate the nuclear agreement with Tehran, the White House said on Tuesday, adding that it would review the launch to determine the appropriate response.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest, in a daily press briefing with reporters, said that the White House was still reviewing whether it would be necessary to raise the issue of the tests before the United Nations Security Council.

"This is not a violation of the nuclear agreement. There are - there's at least one specific United Nations Security Council resolution that could apply here, and the truth is, we're still reviewing the Iranian launch to assess whether it is necessary for this matter to be raised before the United Nations Security Council. And we'll do that - we'll do that work," Earnest said.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards test-fired several ballistic missiles from silos across the country as part of a military exercise on Tuesday, the ISNA news agency reported.

The test was intended "to show Iran's deterrent power and also the Islamic Republic's ability to confront any threat against the [Islamic] Revolution, the state and the sovereignty of the country." ISNA said.

The test came two months after the United States sanctioned businesses and individuals linked to Iran's missile programme over a test of the medium-range Emad missile carried out in October 2015.

The United Nations said that test, which took place after Iran reached a nuclear deal with world powers in July, violated Security Council Resolution 1929 which barred Iran from undertaking any work on nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

That resolution expired when the nuclear deal was implemented in January, but a new resolution then came into force under which Iran is "called upon" not to undertake any work on missiles "designed to" deliver nuclear weapons.

Iran has always denied any link between its ballistic missile tests and its controversial nuclear programme, which is now subject to strict limitations and checks under the nuclear deal that came into force in January.

While any missile of a certain size could in theory be used to carry a nuclear warhead, Iran says the Emad and other missiles are used as a conventional deterrent. The recent work has focused on improving the missiles' accuracy, which experts say will make them more effective with conventional warheads.

On Thursday, the head of the Iranian Army said, according to the Fars news agency, that Iran’s missile programme will continue and should not be considered a threat to neighbouring and friendly countries.

International sanctions imposed on Iran, due to its nuclear programme, were lifted last month under a deal reached between Iran and six world powers in 2015, but sanctions imposed in response to its missile programme were not lifted.

Iran is called upon to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years, according to a United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing the deal.

Iran had violated a UN ban by testing a ballistic missile in October, leading the US to threaten to impose more sanctions.

"Iran's missile capability and its missile programme will become stronger. We do not pay attention and do not implement resolutions against Iran, and this is not a violation of the nuclear deal," said Commander in Chief Ataollah Salehi, according to Fars.

"Our missile programme is not a threat against our friends but it is a threat against our enemies. Israel should understand what it means," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been one of the most vocal critics of the historic nuclear deal.

TRTWorld and agencies