Now U.S. has company in raising pressure on Iran over missile

Now U.S. has company in raising pressure on Iran over missile

Joined by three Western allies, the United States on Wednesday escalated pressure on Iran over its space launch last week, saying the act disregarded a United Nations Security Council resolution on the use of missiles and was “threatening and provocative.”

As The New York Times writes in the article Now U.S. Has Company in Raising Pressure on Iran Over Missile, in a letter to the Security Council and Secretary General António Guterres, Ambassador Nikki R. Haley of the United States and envoys from Britain, France and Germany said the Iranian missile that carried a satellite into orbit was “inherently capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.”

Under the Security Council resolution, 2231, which endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, Iran is called upon “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” The Trump administration, which has been seeking ways to declare Iran in violation of the nuclear agreement, quickly placed sanctions on Iranian companies connected to the launch last week, a unilateral and largely symbolic act that was expected to have little or no practical effect.

But the letter from the four countries — all parties to the nuclear agreement — shows that the United States is not alone in its increasingly irritated response to Iran’s repeated missile testing. The tests do not violate the nuclear agreement, which eased or ended many punitive economic sanctions on Iran in return for its verifiable pledges of peaceful nuclear work. Iran is abiding by the pact’s provisions, United Nations monitors have said.

Still, Iran can ill afford to alienate Britain, France and Germany. Unlike the United States, they have been major sources of the foreign investment that has begun to flow into Iran, albeit slowly, since the nuclear pact took effect.

“The technologies necessary for the conception, the fabrication and the launch of space launch vehicles are closely related to those of ballistic missiles, in particular to those of an intercontinental ballistic missile,” said the letter signed by Ms. Haley on behalf of all four ambassadors. “This launch therefore represents a threatening and provocative step by Iran.” The letter called Iran’s “longstanding program to develop ballistic missiles” inconsistent with Security Council Resolution 2231.

The letter said the issue must be addressed by Mr. Guterres and other Council members but did not specify how. Ms. Haley emphasized the solidarity of the four nations in remarks to the Council on Wednesday. “Our friends and allies in the United Kingdom, France and Germany join us in calling out and condemning Iran’s destructive and threatening actions,” she said. “The world must not allow Iran to act in defiance of the Security Council and its resolutions.”

There was no immediate comment from Iran’s United Nations mission. Iran has contended that its missile tests do not violate the resolution’s language, which does not specifically prohibit testing. Iran says its missiles are purely defensive and could not carry nuclear arms because the country has promised not to develop them.