Iran has more than doubled the number of missile tests it has performed in the past year in possible violation of the 2015 nuclear deal, the German Die Welt daily reported Sunday.
In 2018, Tehran test-fired at least seven medium-range missiles and at least five short-range missiles and cruise missiles, the report said, citing documents obtained from unspecified Western intelligence services and verified “with various sources.”
By comparison, only four such tests of medium-range missiles and one test launch of a short range missile were said to have been conducted in 2017.
The report said it was possible that the missiles were nuclear-capable ballistic weapons, which the Islamic Republic was banned from testing as part of the 2015 internationally supported agreement.
The missiles tested this year reportedly include at least three different variants of the Shahab 3 medium-range missile, at least two tests on variants of the Qiam 1 cruise missile, at least one Khorramashahr medium-range missile, a scud variant, and at least five short-range Zolfaghar missiles.
The report said two of the launches were directed against the Islamic State terror group in Syria, but said that such use could “also serve to test and further develop missiles.”
Last week, the United Nations Security Council met behind closed doors at the request of France and Britain which, along with the United States and Germany, have accused Iran of test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile on Saturday.
France and Britain maintain that missile launches are inconsistent with the UN resolution that endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, while the United States has taken a harder stance and views them as an outright violation.
Iran has long maintained that its missile program is defensive in nature, a stance generally supported by Russia at the Security Council. Western powers disagree.
In a statement, the Iranian mission to the United Nations accused the United States of creating confusion about the wording of the resolution and insisting its missile-related activities were legal.
The UN resolution calls on Iran to refrain from testing missiles capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, but does not specifically bar Tehran from missile launches.
“Portraying Iran’s ballistic missile program as inconsistent with resolution 2231 or as a regional threat is a deceptive and hostile policy of the US,” the Iranian mission said.
The meeting ended with no joint statement or any plan for follow-up action, but the council is scheduled to take stock of the implementation of the resolution on December 19.
The resolution remains in force, but the United States decided in May to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran, to the dismay of its Europeans allies.
The nuclear deal signed by Iran and six powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the US — provides for a lifting of sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear activities.
AFP contributed to this report.