US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on the United Nations Security Council to extend its conventional arms embargo on Iran, set to expire in October, citing Tehran’s recent satellite launch.
In a statement, Pompeo repeated his allegations against Iran, saying Tehran “should not be allowed to buy and sell conventional weapons”.
He said Iran’s announcement Wednesday that it had launched its first military satellite showed that its space program — which Tehran has long insisted is peaceful and civilian — was in fact “neither peaceful nor entirely civilian”.
Pompeo claimed that the technology used to launch the satellite was compatible with that used to launch ballistic missiles, saying “Iran’s dangerous missile programs” need to be constrained.
He further called on the European Union to “sanction those individuals and entities working on Iran’s missile programs.”
He also claimed that lifting the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic may give rise to “violence” in the Middle East.
The removal of Iran’s arms embargo is based on the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and endorsed by the UN Security Council under Resolution 2231.
One of the issues used by the United States to withdraw from the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018 was the time span of the UN arms embargo on Iran.
The measure covers all weapons sales and “related material” to Iran.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) successfully placed Iran’s first ever military satellite- dubbed Noor-1 (Light 1)- in orbit on April 22, using a rocket which is also the country’s first three-stage launch vehicle to successfully deliver its load.
The Noor-1, although Iran’s fifth homegrown satellite to successfully reach outer space, marks a new chapter in the country’s space program, relying on technologies designed and developed at home
Following the satellite launch on Wednesday, Pompeo claimed that “Iran needs to be held accountable”, claiming that it was not consistent with the resolution.
Reacting to Pompeo’s remarks, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said neither the United States nor its European allies, with their ‘flimsy’ misreading of the landmark nuclear deal, were allowed to “lecture” the Islamic Republic on its missile program.
“Iran neither has nukes nor missiles DESIGNED to be capable of carrying such horrific arms,” the top Iranian diplomat said in a Twitter post on Friday.
Speaking at a briefing on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also dismissed as “baseless” claims by Pompeo.
Iran has time and again made it clear that it has no plans to develop nuclear weapons or missiles capable of delivering such warheads.
The Noor-1 is Iran’s first multi-purpose satellite with application in the defense industry, among other areas. It is also the first Iranian satellite with an expected operational life of more than a year in Earth’s orbit.