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’

  • 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.

Yemeni government, STC discuss coalition under Riyadh Agreement

Updated 28 min 11 sec ago

Yemeni government, STC discuss coalition under Riyadh Agreement

  • Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed met on Thursday with STC representatives in Riyadh
  • The discussions between the two sides come under the Riyadh Agreement signed in November last year

DUBAI: The Saudi-backed government of Yemen met with the Southern Transitional Council (STC) to discuss the political components to form the new government as part of a power-sharing deal. 
Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed met on Thursday with STC representatives in Riyadh to outline reforms to unite national ranks between the anti-Houthi coalition, according to state news agency Saba New.
Both sides discussed the priorities of the new government to face existing challenges in the political, military, security, service and economic sectors. Sustainable reforms and addressing corruption, were also on the agenda. 
The discussions between the two sides come under the Riyadh Agreement signed in November last year. 
The new government will look to face current economic challenges in the war-torn country with the aim to stop the deterioration of the national currency exchange rate, as well as the humanitarian situation.

Meanwhile, President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi left Saudi Arabia and headed to the United States for medical treatment

The head of the country’s internationally-recognised government, who has lived in exile in Riyadh since the Iranian-aligned Houthi group captured the Yemeni capital Sanaa in 2015, has been treated for a heart condition since 2011.