The U.S. and three of its allies called for a meeting of the Security Council to respond to Iran’s latest ballistic missiles test-fire, which Washington claims was in violation of a U.N. resolution, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The tests were conducted earlier in March and Tehran maintains it was for self-defense purposes.
In a report, obtained by the AP, the U.S., France, Germany and the U.K. said that the launches by Iran were “destabilizing and provocative.” The report added that the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile and Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile, fired by Iran earlier this month are “inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
The report was sent to Spain's U.N. ambassador, tasked with gathering communication on Iran’s compliance to the resolution. The report also asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report “fully and thoroughly” on Iran’s ballistic missile activity being “inconsistent” with the council resolution and for the Security Council to discuss “appropriate responses,” AP reported.
The countries also slammed Iran's anti-Israel comments, saying that the missiles could target Israel. Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon lauded the call for action and said late Tuesday, according to AP: “There must be consequences for Iran's hostility towards Israel,” adding: “The international community must take action and impose sanctions against the Iranian regime.”
Resolution 2231 by the Security Council over Iran’s missile launch was adopted last year, after the nuclear deal was signed. The resolution called for Iran to refrain from launching any ballistic missiles that can deliver a nuclear weapon. However, when the test firings were taken up in the Security Council on March 14, Russia said that the launches by Iran were not a violation because “a call” was not a demand. Because Moscow has a veto power being a permanent member of the U.N., any action on the matter seems unlikely.
“These missiles do not even fall within the purview of 2231 [U.N. resolution] and they are not illegal,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said earlier this month, adding: “Iran will never use any means to attack any country, including our missiles. These are only for our defense. I challenge those who are complaining about Iran's missile program ... to make the same statement.”
The report by the U.N. Mission said at the time, according to AP, that the country “has never sought to acquire nuclear weapons and never will in the future,” adding that the missile tests “were part of ongoing efforts of its armed forces to strengthen its legitimate defense capabilities ... against security threats.”
Several diplomats said, according to Reuters, that the most Iran could face was a public rebuke from the U.N. Security Council but that rebuke could become a legal springboard for European countries to consider new sanctions against the country. The report added that last week, two Iranian companies were blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department for supporting Tehran’s ballistic missile program. The department also sanctioned two British businessmen, who were allegedly helping an airline used by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
France also reportedly suggested that there could be unilateral sanctions from the European Union against Tehran over the launches.