Iran’s ballistic missiles ‘can carry nuclear weapons’

Iran’s ballistic missiles ‘can carry nuclear weapons’
France said on Thursday that Iran's ballistic missile activities did not conform with a UN Security Council resolution enshrining a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015. (File/AFP)
Updated 07 December 2019

Iran’s ballistic missiles ‘can carry nuclear weapons’

Iran’s ballistic missiles ‘can carry nuclear weapons’
  • UK, France, Germany say Tehran’s actions inconsistent with UN resolution

JEDDAH: Britain, France and Germany on Thursday accused Iran of developing ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, UN ambassadors for the three countries said Tehran’s actions were inconsistent with the UN resolution enshrining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of international sanctions.

The envoys’ letter referred to video footage on social media in April of the test flight of a new Shabab-3 medium range ballistic missile variant that was “technically capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.”

The European powers also pointed to three other launches this year, including that of the Borkan-3, a new medium-range ballistic missile tested by Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen on August 2.

There were “the latest in a long series of advances in Iranian ballistic missile technology,” the ambassadors said.

Separately, Russian state company TVEL on Thursday suspended a research project with Iran because of its decision to resume enriching uranium at the Fordo facility.

The company said the decision made it impossible to convert the facility to produce radioactive isotopes for medical purposes.

Iran agreed to stop uranium enrichment under the JCPOA, but it has resumed such activities after the US pulled out of the agreement and imposed new sanctions. TVEL’s suspension apparently reflects Moscow’s attempt to distance itself from Iranian nuclear activities to avoid the US penalties. It follows a US announcement last month that the waiver allowing foreign companies to work at Fordo will end on Dec. 15.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the US pressure “created a difficult environment” for Russia and other participants in the JCPOA. He said Russia was suspending its participation in the project to “analyze the possibilities and potential negative consequences of the American measures.” 

The Russian announcement came a day before consultations in Vienna between Iran and the world powers involved in the JCPOA.

Last month, Iran announced that it was resuming uranium enrichment at Fordo, a heavily fortified facility inside a mountain ringed by anti-aircraft batteries that has over 1,000 centrifuges.

Under the 2015 deal, Russia and Iran were supposed to work together to turn Fordo into a research center to produce radioactive isotopes of tellurium and xenon for medical use. It was monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog.