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EghtesadOnline: Iran brushed off western pressure to halt its ballistic missile program after three European powers, in a letter to the United Nations, accused Tehran of developing nuclear-capable missiles.

The British, German and French ambassadors to the UN Security Council, in a letter circulated on Wednesday, called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to inform the world body in his next report that Iran’s missile program is “inconsistent” with a UN resolution that endorses the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, Reuters reported.

In response, Iran stressed that it is determined to press ahead with its missile program, which is only for deterrence and has nothing to do with its nuclear activity, according to Financial Tribune.

“Iran is determined to resolutely continue its activities related to ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles,” Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht-Ravanchi said in a letter to Guterres on Thursday, IRNA reported.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced the European powers’ intervention.

“Latest E3 letter to UNSC on missiles is a desperate falsehood to cover up their miserable incompetence in fulfilling bare minimum of their own #JCPOA obligations,” Zarif tweeted, referring to the nuclear deal by its formal title, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

He urged Britain, France and Germany not to bow to “US bullying”.

The letter surfaced at a time of heightened friction between Iran and the West. Tehran is rolling back its commitments under the deal step by step in response to Washington’s withdrawal from the pact last year and reimposition of sanctions on the Islamic Republic, which has severely affected its economy.

A 2015 UN resolution “called upon” Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles that could be capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

Some states—including Russia which, with four other world powers, wields a veto on the UN Security Council—argue that the language does not make it obligatory.

France contended on Thursday that Iran’s ballistic missile activities do not conform to the UNSC resolution and called on Tehran to respect all its obligations under that resolution.

The UN Security Council is due to meet later this month on the state of compliance with the resolution underpinning the nuclear deal, and the European letter “will add to that discussion”, a senior European diplomat told Reuters.

Britain, France and Germany have sought to salvage the nuclear pact, under which Iran undertook to curtail its uranium enrichment program in return for relief from sanctions. But Tehran says European powers have failed to shield Iran’s economy from US sanctions.

 

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