April 24, 2020 / 10:58 AM / a month ago

Iran’s ballistic missile launch 'of significant concern' - Britain

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Friday Iran’s launch of a military satellite using ballistic missile technology this week was “of significant concern” and inconsistent with a United Nations Security Council resolution.

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif speaks with the media on the sidelines of a security conference in New Delhi, India, January 15, 2020. REUTERS/Alasdair Pal/File Photo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Wednesday for Iran to be held accountable for the launch, and said he believed it defied the Security Council resolution.

A 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons following an agreement with six world powers to limit its nuclear programme.

“Reports that Iran has carried out a satellite launch – using ballistic missile technology – are of significant concern and inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2231,” a British Foreign Office spokesman said.

“The U.N. has called upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran must abide by this.”

Tehran denies U.S. assertions that such activity is a cover for ballistic missile development and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.

In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated Iran’s position that its missiles are not “designed” to carry nuclear arms, as required by U.N. Security Council resolution 2231.

“US has been bullying all against UNSC Resolution 2231 since 2017... Neither (Europe or the United States) can lecture Iran based on flimsy misreadings of UNSCR 2231,” Zarif said in the tweet. “Iran neither has nukes nor missiles ‘DESIGNED to be capable of carrying such horrific arms.”

Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the aerospace division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, was quoted as saying the force planned to launch a new satellite soon.

“The commander (Hajizadeh) noted that the (Revolutionary Guards) is trying to launch the next satellite into space in the not-too-distant future, saying it will be placed into a higher orbit and have greater efficiency,” the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported.

A senior U.S. administration official said on Thursday that a declassified assessment of this week’s launch determined that it was overseen by Hajizadeh at a site in eastern Iran.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Hajizadeh has also been behind other missile launches. Hajizadeh has not responded to the official’s remarks.

(This story fixes typo in final paragraph)

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Dubai newsroom; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Timothy Heritage

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