UK says Iran’s ballistic missile launch is of significant concern

FILE PHOTO: A first military satellite named Noor is launched into orbit by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, in Semnan, Iran April 22, 2020. WANA/Sepah News via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Friday that Iran’s launch of a military satellite using ballistic missile technology earlier this week was of significant concern and inconsistent with a United Nations Security Council resolution.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for Iran to be held accountable for the launch and said he believed it defied the U.N. Security Council resolution.

A 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons following an agreement with six world powers to limit its nuclear programme.

“Reports that Iran has carried out a satellite launch – using ballistic missile technology – are of significant concern and inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2231,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.

“The U.N. has called upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran must abide by this,” the spokesman said.

Tehran denies U.S. assertions that such activity is a cover for ballistic missile development and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.

In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated Iran’s position that its missiles are not “designed” to carry nuclear arms, as required by the U.N. resolution 2231.

“US has been bullying all against UNSC Resolution 2231 since 2017... Neither (Europe or the United States) can lecture Iran based on flimsy misreadings of UNSCR 2231,” Zarif said. “Iran neither has nukes nor missiles ‘DESIGNED to be capable of carrying such horrific arms.”

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Dubai newsroom; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky