‘Not much of an agreement’: Iran nuclear deal in jeopardy as US and European leaders voice concern at latest missile test
President Donald Trump casts doubt over the 2015 accord in latest tweet, while the Islamic republic says defence capabilities will continue
US President Donald Trump gave a stark warning to Iran on Saturday, casting growing uncertainty over whether a nuclear deal clinched with the Islamic republic would survive after it tested a new medium-range missile.
Iranian state television showed footage of the launch of the Khoramshahr missile, which was first displayed at a high-profile military parade in Tehran on Friday.
It also carried in-flight video from the nose cone of the missile, which has a range of 2,000km and can carry multiple warheads.
“Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!” Trump tweeted.
Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel.They are also working with North Korea.Not much of an agreement we have!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
The test comes at the end of a heated week of diplomacy at the UN General Assembly in New York, where Trump again accused Iran of destabilising the Middle East, calling it a “rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos”.
“As long as some speak in the language of threats, the strengthening of the country’s defence capabilities will continue and Iran will not seek permission from any country for producing various kinds of missile,” Defence Minister Amir Hatami said in a statement.
Previous Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations that they violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
An “extremely concerned” French foreign ministry, also warned the launch violated the UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the accord.
“France demands that Iran halt all destabilising activities in the region and to respect all provisions of Resolution 2231, including the call to halt this type of ballistic activity,” a statement read.
“France will consider ways, with its European and other partners, to get Iran to stop its destabilising ballistic activities.”
Extremely concerned by reports of Iran missile test, which is inconsistent with UN resolution 2231. Call on Iran to halt provocative acts
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 23, 2017
Iran, which fought a war with neighbouring Iraq in the 1980s, sees missiles as a legitimate and vital part of its defence – particularly as regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel import huge amounts of military hardware from the West.
Trump has threatened to bin the nuclear agreement altogether, saying Iran is developing missiles that may be used to deliver a nuclear warhead when the deal’s restrictions are lifted in 2025.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman denounced the test as a “provocation” aimed at the United States and its allies, including the Jewish state.
Trump is expected to report to Congress on October 15 on whether Iran is still complying with the deal and whether it remains in US interests to stick by it.
If he decides that it is not, that could open the way for US lawmakers to reimpose sanctions, leading to the potential collapse of the agreement.
Trump said earlier this week he had made his decision but was not yet ready to reveal it.
The other signatories to the deal – Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union – have all pushed for it to continue. They point out that abandoning the agreement will remove restrictions on Iran immediately – rather than in eight years’ time – and that the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed Tehran is meeting its commitments.
“Extremely concerned by reports of Iran missile test, which is inconsistent with UN resolution 2231. Call on Iran to halt provocative acts,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter.
Iran says all of its missiles are designed to carry conventional warheads only and has limited their range to a maximum of 2,000km, although commanders say they have the technology to go further.
That makes them only medium-range, but still sufficient to reach Israel or US bases in the Gulf.
“The ballistic missile which Iran fired is a provocation of the United States and its allies, including Israel,” the Israeli defence minister said.
“It is also a means to test our reactions as well as new proof of Iran’s ambition to become a world power in order to threaten the countries of the Middle East and democratic states around the world.”
In addition to carrying out missile tests, Iran has also launched a space satellite and fired missiles at Islamic State targets in eastern Syria in recent months.
Additional reporting by Reuters