AFP — The United States on Tuesday urged the UN Security Council to condemn Iran for carrying out a ballistic missile test, describing the launch as dangerous and a violation of a UN resolution.
The council met behind closed doors at the request of France and Britain which, along with the United States, 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’s recent ballistic missile test was dangerous and concerning, but not surprising,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement.
“The international community cannot keep turning a blind eye every time Iran blatantly ignores Security Council resolutions.
“If the Security Council is serious about holding Iran accountable and enforcing our resolutions, then at a minimum we should be able to deliver a unanimous condemnation of this provocative missile test,” she said.
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.
Iran has neither denied nor confirmed the launch that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said involved a missile of a medium range, capable of carrying multiple warheads and striking parts of Europe and the entire Middle East.
Following the meeting, French Ambassador Francois Delattre said there was “widely-shared concern” at the council about the missile test and renewed France’s call to Iran to halt all activities related to its missile program.
British Ambassador Karen Pierce stressed that the types of missiles launched on December 1 “go way beyond legitimate defensive needs” and point to Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region.
“If you wanted to demonstrate to the international community that you were a responsible member of it and genuinely interested in regional peace and security, these are not the types of missiles you would be test-launching,” said Pierce.
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.
While the resolution remains in force, 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.