UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council will meet behind closed doors on Tuesday at the request of France and Britain after they accused Iran of test-firing a medium-range missile at the weekend, diplomats said.
The United States said the missile launch on Saturday was a violation of a UN resolution that endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which Washington has withdrawn.
That resolution calls on Iran to refrain from testing missiles capable of carrying a nuclear weapon.
France said it was concerned by the test-firing with the foreign ministry describing it as “provocative and destabilising” and “does not conform” with UN resolution 2231 on the Iran deal.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called the missile test “provocative, threatening and inconsistent” with the resolution and said Britain was determined “that it should cease.”
Iran has long maintained that its missile program is defensive in nature and not aimed at ensuring the delivery of a nuclear weapon, a stance supported by Russia at the Security Council.
Washington’s Iran envoy Brian Hook urged the European Union to slap sanctions that target Tehran’s missile program as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Brussels for talks with European partners.
Pompeo held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brussels on Monday to discuss Iran and other regional issues. Pompeo, like Netanyahu, is an outspoken critic of Iran’s nuclear program and he condemned on Saturday the latest missile test by the Islamic republic. Netanyahu often uses meetings with international officials to push his agenda of halting what he describes as Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Israel also sees Tehran’s moves to set up bases in neighboring Syria as a regional threat, along with the heavily armed Iran-backed militia Hezbollah in Lebanon. Pompeo also plans to talk about Iran when he meets his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany on Tuesday while he is in Belgium for a meeting of NATO counterparts. Pompeo mounted a staunch defense of US foreign policy, arguing that Washington is building a world order to fight cynical abuses by Russia, China and Iran. On a visit to Brussels, the former CIA chief took aim at European critics who accuse the US of undermining global institutions, insisting that President Donald Trump is restoring America’s traditional leadership role. He urged US allies to join Trump’s efforts and to assess honestly whether bodies like the World Trade Organization, the International Criminal Court and the International Monetary Fund are serving their citizens. “Bad actors have exploited our lack of leadership for their own gain,” Pompeo told a gathering of diplomats in the European capital, ahead of talks at NATO. “This is the poisoned fruit of American retreat. President Trump is determined to reverse that.” Hook rejected Iran’s insistence that its missile program is defensive. He told reporters traveling with Pompeo that Iran’s continued missile development and testing is a threat to the region and beyond and in defiance of UN Security Council demands. Hook said US discussions with the Europeans about missile sanctions are gaining traction. Those talks center on slapping penalties on companies and people involved in Iran’s program. “It is a grave and escalating threat, and nations around the world, not just Europe, need to do everything they can to be targeting Iran’s missile program,” Hook said. The United States decided in May to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran, to the dismay of its Europeans allies.
The nuclear deal provides for a lifting of sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear activities.
The remaining five signatories to the nuclear deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — have backed an EU effort to set up a special payment system in a bid to maintain trade and business ties with Iran.