UN Security Council to hold urgent talks on Iran ballistic missile test
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UN Security Council to hold urgent talks on Iran ballistic missile test

US requests emergency consultations after Israeli envoy to UN calls for action; Netanyahu says he’ll press Trump to reimpose sanctions

Illustrative: A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, 'Israel must be wiped out.' (Fars News)
Illustrative: A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, 'Israel must be wiped out.' (Fars News)

The UN Security Council will hold urgent talks Tuesday on Iran’s test-firing of a medium-range missile said capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, diplomats said.

The United States requested the emergency consultations after the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations called for council action.

“In light of Iran’s January 29 launch of a medium-range ballistic missile, the United States has requested urgent consultations of the Security Council,” the US mission said in a statement.

The talks on Iran will follow a meeting on Syria scheduled for 10:00 a.m.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said the test of the 4,000 kilometer range (2,500 miles) ballistic missile violated UN resolutions that bar Iran from launching ballistic missiles that could have a nuclear capability.

“The international community must not bury its head in the sand in the face of this Iranian aggression,” said Danon.

Israel ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses the UN Security Council on January 17, 2017 (Courtesy)
Israel ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses the UN Security Council on January 17, 2017 (Courtesy)

“The Security Council members must act immediately in response to these Iranian actions which endanger not only Israel, but the entire Middle East.”

It was the first request for council consultations made by the United States since new US Ambassador Nikki Haley took office.

US President Donald Trump has promised to strengthen ties with Israel and has sharply criticized the Iran nuclear deal that led to a lifting of international sanctions against Tehran.

Trump is due to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 15.

New US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, arrives to meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations on January 27, 2017 in New York. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP)
New US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, arrives to meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations on January 27, 2017 in New York. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP)

Terming the test a “flagrant breach” of UN Security Council resolutions, Netanyahu on Monday demanded the reimposition of sanctions against Iran and said he would discuss with Trump a reevaluation of the “entire failed nuclear accord” that the Obama Administration and other P5+1 countries agreed with Iran in 2015.

The missile test, which Fox News reported took place on Sunday, was unsuccessful; the Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile flew 600 miles and then exploded, it said, citing US officials. Israel’s Channel 10 television said the failed test actually took place about 10 days ago. It said the Iranians were plainly “testing Trump,” who last week, in a phone conversation with Netanyahu, said the two would consult closely to address “the threats posed by Iran.”

The nuclear deal, intended to thwart Iran’s rogue nuclear program and championed by president Barack Obama as a “game-changer,” has been consistently castigated by Netanyahu as “a bad deal” that actually paves the way for an Iranian nuclear arsenal.

Asked about the missile test, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said they were looking into the report.

“We’re aware that Iran fired that missile. We’re looking into the exact nature of it,” Spicer said.

UN Resolution 2231, which was passed shortly after the nuclear deal was signed in July 2015, calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Iran argues that because the nuke deal forbids them from pursuing a nuclear weapon, no ballistic missile is capable of carrying atomic arms that don’t exist and thus tests of them are not out of bounds.

A long-range Qadr ballistic missile is launched in the Alborz mountain range in northern Iran on March 9, 2016. (AFP / TASNIM NEWS / Mahmood Hosseini)
A long-range Qadr ballistic missile is launched in the Alborz mountain range in northern Iran on March 9, 2016. (AFP / TASNIM NEWS / Mahmood Hosseini)

Britain, France and the United States have sought council action over Iranian missiles launches last year, but Russia and China opposed discussion of possible sanctions that they argued would jeopardize the hard-fought nuclear deal.

News of the test came a day after Trump committed to enforcing the Iranian nuclear deal, despite his campaign pledge to dismantle the landmark accord that he has repeatedly called “disastrous” and “one of the dumbest deals” he’s ever seen.

In a Sunday phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud, the president pledged to “rigorously enforc[e] the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” referring to the deal’s formal name, according to a White House readout of the conversation.

US President Donald Trump seen through an Oval Office window gives a thumbs up as he speaks on the phone to King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House on January 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)
US President Donald Trump seen through an Oval Office window gives a thumbs up as he speaks on the phone to King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House on January 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

As a candidate, Trump often sent mixed signals about how he would handle the Iranian nuclear threat if he was elected. In his address at last year’s AIPAC Policy Conference, he vowed both to rip up the pact and enforce it.

Since Trump’s election in November, his advisers have signaled that he would not unilaterally walk away from the agreement unless Tehran violated its terms.

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