US calls for UN meeting over Iran's missile test

Iran's nuclear deal is under fresh strain after the US says the country carried out a test launch of a medium-range ballistic missile.VIDEO: REUTERS

Teheran warns against 'creating new tensions'; Russia says no breach of resolution on Iran's nuclear programme

TEHERAN • Iran yesterday warned the United States against "creating new tensions" over its ballistic missile test as Washington called for urgent talks at the United Nations Security Council on the issue.

The row comes against a backdrop of already-strained relations over US President Donald Trump's travel ban on citizens from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries.

The European Union appealed to Teheran to refrain from activities such as missile tests, "which deepen mistrust".

But the diplomatic push by the US to schedule "urgent consultations" within the UN Security Council yesterday quickly ran into trouble as Russia said a missile test would not breach a UN resolution on Iran's nuclear programme.

Moscow, which is fighting alongside Teheran's forces in Syria, said the demand for emergency talks at the Security Council was aimed at "heating up the situation".

Teheran has neither confirmed nor denied firing any missiles over the weekend.

Mr Trump has sharply criticised the nuclear deal that led to a lifting of international sanctions against Iran, which used the occasion of a visit by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to express its discontent with Washington.

"We hope that Iran's defence programme is not used by the new US administration... as a pretext to create new tensions," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a press conference with Mr Ayrault.

Mr Ayrault said at the start of his two-day trip to Teheran on Monday that France would act as a defender of the nuclear deal.

Speaking at the same news conference, he said France had made clear its disquiet over the missile tests. "France has expressed its concern at Iran's continuation of its ballistic missile tests on several occasions," he added.

Iran says its missiles do not breach UN resolutions because they are for defence purposes and are not designed to carry nuclear warheads. "We have always declared that we will never use our weapons against others except in our defence," Mr Zarif added.

He also slammed the new US administration's "shameful act of denying entry to people holding legal visas" for the US.

Washington called for the emergency UN meeting after a request by Israel, which said the missile test violated UN resolutions that bar Iran from launching ballistic missiles that could have a nuclear capability.

"The international community must not bury its head in the sand in the face of this Iranian aggression," said Israel's ambassador to the UN, Mr Danny Danon.

But Russia indicated it had little appetite for any move to censure Iran at the Security Council over the reported missile test.

"Such actions, if they took place, do not breach the resolution," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax news agency.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'US calls for UN meeting over Iran's missile test'. Print Edition | Subscribe