Iran tests new ballistic missile, draws rebuke from Trump

#IranNuclear

Launch calls into question nuclear deal, Trump tweets, while he also accuses Tehran of colluding with North Korea

Launch of the Khorramshar ballistic missile (screengrab)
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Sunday 24 September 2017 9:29 UTC
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Iran's successful test of a medium-range ballistic missile after US warnings that it may pull out of a landmark nuclear deal also drew fresh criticism from President Donald Trump.

The launch called into question the nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers, Trump said on Saturday, while he also accused the Islamic republic of colluding with North Korea.

"Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!" Trump tweeted.

An "extremely concerned" French foreign ministry warned that the launch violated the United Nations Security Council resolution that endorsed the accord.

"France demands that Iran halt all destablizing activities in the region and to respect all provisions of Resolution 2231, including the call to halt this type of ballistic activity," a statement read. "France will consider ways, with its European and other partners, to get Iran to stop its destabilizing ballistic activities."

Israel's Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced Iran's testing of a medium-range missile as a "provocation" and said it was proof of Tehran's ambition to become a world power.

"The ballistic missile which Iran fired is a provocation of the United States and its allies, including Israel," Lieberman said in a statement on Saturday. "It is also a means to test our reactions as well as new proof of Iran's ambition to become a world power in order to threaten the countries of the Middle East and democratic states around the world."

Iran state broadcaster IRIB showed images of the missile test without disclosing its location or time and said the missile is capable of carrying multiple warheads.

"You are seeing images of the successful test of the Khorramshahr ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km, the latest missile of our country,"  the state broadcaster said.

"This is the third Iranian missile with a range of 2,000 km," it added.

President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would strengthen its military capabilities as he unveiled the missile at a military parade on Friday.

"We will strengthen not only our missiles but also our air, land and sea forces ... When it comes to defending our country, we will ask nobody for their permission," he said.



Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends an armed forces parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2017 (Reuters)

Trump's threats

Previous Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations that they violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.

Trump has threatened to bin the agreement, saying that Iran's missile programme could give it the technical know-how for a delivery system for a nuclear warhead when a sunset clause in the deal expires in 2025.

He is due to report to Congress on 15 October on whether he believes Iran has complied with the deal and whether it remains in US interests to stick by it. 

This could pave the way for US lawmakers to reimpose sanctions, leading to the potential collapse of the agreement.

Trump said on Wednesday he had made his decision but was not yet ready to reveal it.

The other signatories to the deal - Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the EU - have all pushed for it to continue. 

Until now, they have said Iran has stuck to its commitments, as repeatedly stated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and that the deal was never intended to address other issues.

Iran has said repeatedly that it has no choice but to boost its defences while its regional rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia sign huge arms contracts with Washington and other Western governments.

Rouhani hit out on Friday at those who "create problems for the peoples of our region every day and boast of selling arms to the bloodthirsty Zionist regime, which has been attacking the peoples of our region for 70 years like a cancerous tumour".