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Iran's Missile Tests Not in Violation of JCPOA, UN Resolution 2231

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has defended the country's right to use ballistic missiles, saying Iran's missiles are a means of defense.

"We spent a fraction of any other country in the region on defense, and missiles are a means of defense that we require," he said.

He added that the missile tests did not violate a nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), clinched by Iran and the P5+1 countries – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – on July 14, 2015.

Zarif said the missile launches were not against the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that endorsed the nuclear agreement.

Resolution 2231 (2015) provides for the termination of the provisions of previous Security Council resolutions on the Iranian nuclear program and establishes specific restrictions that apply to all states without exception.

The resolution calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.

“We stated when the nuclear deal was approved by the Security Council and during the course of nuclear discussions that we will continue with our defense capabilities and that these defense capabilities have nothing to do with nuclear weapons,” Zarif said.

He emphasized that the missiles were not designed to carry nuclear warheads and said Iran has “provided the best guarantee” that it would never develop nuclear weapons.

Iran’s Foreign Minister has also hailed as a “positive sign” Russia’s decision to begin withdrawing its troops from conflict-stricken Syria, where a ceasefire extends into a third week.

“The fact that Russia announced they are withdrawing part of its forces indicates that they don’t see an imminent need for resort to force in maintaining the ceasefire,” said Zarif.

“That in and of itself could be a positive sign. We have to wait and see,” added the top Iranian diplomat.

The Russian military has begun a partial withdrawal from Syria after a Monday order by President Vladimir Putin.

Press Release of Iranian Mission in New York

Pursuant to a campaign of disinformation that followed the recent missile test-launches by the Iranian military forces, the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations would like to provide the following clarifications:

1- Iran, as a country living in the most unstable and volatile region of the world, is fully entitled to build a credible conventional capability to deter and defend against any aggression. Iran’s recent ballistic missile test launches were part of ongoing efforts of its armed forces to strengthen its legitimate defense capabilities and to demonstrate the effectiveness and readiness of missile systems against security threats. It is demagoguery for those who are at the supplying and receiving ends of around $100 billion of the state-of-the-art weaponry just to the lower Persian Gulf region in 2015 (while Iran’s entire defense budget was around ten times less in the same year) to hype this much Iran’s conventional missile-test launches. The disparity between Iran’s defense spending and that of other regional states is colossal, and has been acknowledged even by the US officials at the highest levels.

2- Brazen threats against Iran’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, multiplied in the past several years, have made it all the more imperative for Iran to build a legitimate deterrent capability. As an example of these threats, Moshe Yaalon, Defense Minister of the Israeli regime, in a speech on 5 May 2015 in the Shurat Hadin Law of War Conference in Jerusalem threatened to use nuclear bomb against Iran. (For detail, see Iran’s letter to the Security Council dated 19 May, 2015) The same regime remains the only obstacle in the way towards establishing a Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East and the only one in our region in unlawful possession of nuclear weapons.

3- The statements made by the Iranian military commanders reflected only the concern over such threats. The commander of the Aerospace Force of the Guards Corps, whose statements are wildly distorted by vested-interest parties, reiterated in his interview following the tests that “we won’t start any war, we aim, however, to defend ourselves … we don’t intend to attack any country, but if we come under attack, we should be able to retaliate.”

4- Security Council resolution 2231 does not prohibit legitimate and conventional military activities, nor does international law disallow them. Iran has never sought to acquire nuclear weapon and never will in the future, as it fully honours its commitment under the NPT and the JCPOA. Consequently, Iran's missiles are not and could not be designed for delivery of unconventional weapons. We reject arbitrary interpretation of the provisions of Security Council resolution 2231 and its annexes, and call upon all parties to act in good-faith and refrain from provocations.

5- We, likewise, reject the raising of this issue in a meeting of the Security Council and consider it to be contrary to the prevailing positive environment, and detrimental to the good-faith implementation of the JCPOA.

Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations - New York

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