Iran Says Missile Programme Defensive After U.S. Test Allegation

DUBAI, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Iran said on Sunday its missile programme is defensive and not in breach of U.N. resolutions, the state news agency IRNA said, following a U.S. allegation that Tehran had carried out a new missile test.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday condemned what he described as Iran’s testing of a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads as a violation of the 2015 international agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme.

“Iran’s missile programme is defensive in nature… There is no Security Council resolution prohibiting the missile programme and missile tests by Iran,” IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying in response to Pompeo’s remarks.

Qasemi did not confirm or deny that Iran had carried out a new missile test.

Bahram Qassemi.

Under the U.N. resolution enshrining the 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, Iran is “called upon” to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Iran has repeatedly said its missile programme is purely defensive and denied its missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads.

Qasemi, addressing Pompeo, said: “It is…ironic that you cite a resolution that you have not only breached through your unilateral and unlawful withdrawal form the (nuclear) accord but that you also encourage others to breach or even threaten to punish and sanction them if they carry it (accord) out.”

President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the nuclear deal, approved before he took office, in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. Trump said the deal was flawed as it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for armed proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom Editing by Mark Heinrich)