The acting US representative to the UN Jonathan Cohen accused Iran of intensifying its efforts to develop ballistic missile technology, while other members of the Security Council note that there has been no breach of the UN resolution.
Iran “has conducted several activities that defy” a UN resolution urging it to refrain from actions related to “ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons,” Cohen wrote in a letter obtained from a Security Council diplomat, Bloomberg reported.
The letter, dated Thursday, underscores the Trump administration’s increasing emphasis on Iran’s ballistic missile development, capable of delivering nuclear warheads. Iran has been a focal point of the Trump’s administration Middle East policy, which includes its decision to withdraw from the multinational accord to curb Iran’s nuclear program – a stance that other members of the Security Council, including US allies France and the UK, have criticized as ineffective.
Cohen cited Iran’s test-firing of a medium-range ballistic missile in December and two failed attempts to place satellites into orbit.
“Iran has carried out these three launches in defiance of the expressed will of the UN Security Council, and such provocations continue to destabilize the entire Middle East region. Iran’s further development of missile technology risks a regional arms race and heightens the possibility that a miscalculation could spark a confrontation that is in no one’s interest,” Cohen wrote.
Russia and China, both veto-wielding members of the Security Council, note that the 2015 resolution endorsing the nuclear deal contains no prohibition against ballistic missile testing but rather calls upon Iran not to do so. A stricter UN resolution on missile testing was eased as part of the negotiations which took place during the Obama administration, concluding with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement.
Cohen argued that UN member states that support Iran’s ballistic missile program are violating the resolution. All countries “have an obligation under that resolution not to supply, sell, or transfer to Iran ballistic missile-related items, materials, equipment, goods, and technology absent advance, case-by-case approval from the Security Council,” he said.
Iranian Ambassador Eshagh Al Habib has told the Security Council that Tehran’s ballistic missile program is designed only to deter foreign threats, not carry offensive nuclear warheads.