France, Germany and UK say Iran missiles can deliver nukes
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — France, Germany and Britain expressed concern in a letter released Tuesday that Iran’s latest ballistic missile activities are part of increasing actions to develop missiles capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.
Ambassadors from the three U.N. Security Council nations said in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Iran’s latest development and launching of ballistic missiles is having a destabilizing effect in the Middle East and increasing existing tensions. The Western allies also said Iran’s activities are “inconsistent” with a 2015 U.N. resolution calling on Iran not to undertake any activity involving such missiles.
The resolution was adopted unanimously to support the 2015 deal between Iran and six major powers including the United States to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program. Last year, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the pact but France, Germany and Britain, also signatories, still support the nuclear agreement.
In their letter, the three European allies pointed to the Feb. 6 launch of a Dousti satellite, saying its Safir space launch vehicle is capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
They also cited Iran’s unveiling of a Dezful surface-to-surface ballistic missile on Feb. 7 saying it is “highly likely” to meet the criteria to deliver a nuclear weapon, and Tehran’s public display on Feb. 4 of a variation of the Khorramshahr ballistic missile, calling it “potentially” a nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre, Germany’s U.N. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen and Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce asked Guterres to report “fully and thoroughly on Iranian ballistic missile activity inconsistent” with the 2015 resolution in his next report to the Security Council.
The ambassadors’ latest letter is a follow-up to previous letters in November, December and February on Iranian missile activity “inconsistent” with the resolution.
In early March, the United States urged the Security Council to impose new sanctions on Iran, saying its recent missile-related launches could be capable of delivering nuclear weapons and risk a regional arms race.
Acting U.S. ambassador Jonathan Cohen condemned “Iran’s destabilizing activities” in a letter to Guterres and called on Tehran “to cease immediately all activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
The Trump administration re-imposed U.S. sanctions on Iran in November, including those targeting its vital oil sector, after it pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal.
On March 22, the U.S. hit Iran with additional sanctions, targeting 31 Iranian scientists, technicians and companies which had been at the forefront of the country’s former nuclear weapons program.
The European ambassadors’ letter made no mention of sanctions.
Under the nuclear agreement, many U.N. sanctions on Iran were lifted.