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Europeans scold Iran for developing nuclear-capable projectiles

Iranian Simorgh rocket - The opening of Imam Khomeini National Space Agency (RA). (Tasnim News Agency/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

France, Germany, and Britain have voiced concern to the UN’s secretary-general that Iran has developed a ballistic-missile system capable of delivering a nuclear weapon in violation of the international body’s Security Council resolution.

A letter the three countries circulated widely at the UN on December 4 stated that “Iran’s development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles” was inconsistent with a UN Security Council resolution that endorses a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, and which urges Tehran not to pursue activity related to such missiles.

The EU countries that drafted the letter are three of the six signatories of the nuclear agreement, along with the United States, Russia, and China.

A flight test of a medium-range missile variant in particular is mentioned in their joint letter: “The Shahab-3 booster used in the test is a Missile Technology Control Regime category-1 system and as such is technically capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.”

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In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the letter “a desperate falsehood to cover up” the three European countries’ “miserable incompetence” in fulfilling their commitments to the nuclear deal.

If Britain, France, and Germany “want a modicum of global credibility, they can begin by exerting sovereignty rather than bowing to US bullying,” Zarif wrote.

Last year in May, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear accord that offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. However, the remaining signatories still support the pact.

Washington has since reimposed crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy, while Tehran has gradually reduced some of its commitments under the deal.

Citing a UN Security Council resolution on Iran, the three EU countries urged Tehran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Trump wants to force Iran to renegotiate the agreement, arguing that the terms were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and agree curbs to its ballistic-missile program.

Iran has refused, insisting that its nuclear program is strictly for civilian energy purposes.