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Israel to demand Iran be punished for missile tests

Netanyahu instructs diplomats to appeal for action by P5+1 countries over Tehran’s ‘repeated and gross violations’

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)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered Israeli diplomats to demand that world powers punish Iran for its recent ballistic missile launches, his office said on Saturday.

Netanyahu “instructed the foreign ministry to contact the P5+1 countries and demand that immediate punitive measures be taken in the wake of Iran’s repeated and gross violations on the missiles issue,” it said in an English-language statement.

“This is an important step in and of itself and is also a test of the major powers in enforcing the nuclear agreement,” it added.

An agreement between Iran and the permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) lifts international sanctions in return for Tehran ensuring that its nuclear program remains purely for civilian use.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on February 28, 2016 (AFP / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on February 28, 2016 (AFP/POOL/RONEN ZVULUN)

Israel strongly opposed the deal with its arch foe, with Netanyahu warning that it would not block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons.

Iran says it fired two long-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday and similar tests were carried out on Tuesday, less than two months after the Iran nuclear deal was implemented.

On Thursday, an Israeli foreign ministry statement condemned the launches.

“The development of ground-to-ground missiles with nuclear warhead capability calls into question Iran’s intentions to comply in full with the nuclear agreement,” it said.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called on the Security Council in a letter Friday to issue a strong condemnation of Iran for what he said was a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement, arguing that the tests are in breach of Security Council Resolution 2231, which bans Iran from firing any missiles that could carry a nuclear warhead.

“The test firing of ballistic missiles constitutes a gross violation of UNSC Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1,” Danon wrote. “Iran continues to disregard its obligations to UN resolutions. This latest provocation makes it clear that the ‘smile campaign’ of the current regime is nothing more than a smokescreen to disguise the real intentions of the ayatollah regime.”

The ambassador also highlighted the fact that the Iranians had written “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth” in Hebrew on the side of missiles, and that a senior member of the Revolutionary Guards had warned that Iran had missiles able to reach any point in Israel.

“The Security Council must not stand by in silence when one member state of the United Nations calls for the annihilation of another member state [and] continues to disregard it obligations to the international community to develop its aggressive capabilities,” Danon wrote.

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said on Friday that she had asked the Security Council to discuss the matter on Monday.

The United States is “deeply concerned” about the missile tests “which are provocative and destabilizing”, she said in a statement.

Under the deal with Iran that came into force on January 16, most sanctions resolutions against Tehran were annulled.

But an arms embargo and restrictions on ballistic missile technology capable of carrying a nuclear warhead remain in place, under Resolution 2231.

Iran has maintained that its missile program is not aimed at developing a nuclear capability.

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