US Vows To Remain ‘Relentless’ To Deter Iran Missile Programme

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WASHINGTON — The United States vowed to remain ‘relentless’ in pressuring Iran to deter its missile programme after the Islamic Republic unveiled a new ballistic weapon days after testing a cruise missile.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards unveiled a new ballistic missile with a range of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), their official news agency Sepah News reported.

The move was the latest show of military might by the country as it celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution at a time of heightened tensions with the US.

“Iran’s blatant disregard for international norms must be addressed,” State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a statement.

“We must bring back tougher international restrictions to deter Iran’s missile programme,” he added.

“The United States will continue to be relentless in building support around the world to confront the Iranian regime’s reckless ballistic missile activity, and we will continue to impose sufficient pressure on the regime so that it changes its malign behaviour – including by fully implementing all of our sanctions.”

Tehran reined in most of its nuclear programme under a landmark 2015 deal with major powers but has kept up development of its ballistic missile technology.

President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear accord in May and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, citing the programme among its reasons.

“Iran’s latest missile launch again proves the Iran deal is doing nothing to stop Iran’s missile programme,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted late Thursday.

Iran and the other signatories have stuck by the 2015 agreement, although some European governments have demanded an addition to address Tehran’s ballistic missile programme and its intervention in regional conflicts.

Meanwhile, UN Security Council Resolution 2231 – adopted just after the nuclear deal – calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons”.

Tehran insists that its missile development programme is ‘purely defensive’ and compliant with the resolution.

Iran unveils underground ballistic missile plant for 1st time

ran has unveiled an underground plant manufacturing precision ballistic missiles for the Aerospace Division of its Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

“Unveiling this missile production city deep underground is an answer to the idle talk made by the Westerners, who assume they can restrict us and dissuade us from [pursuing] our long-term goals by means of threats and sanctions,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the IRGC’s chief commander, said during the unveiling ceremony on Thursday.

The ceremony, which was joined by the commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Division, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, also featured the inauguration of a smart surface-to-surface missile dubbed Dezful.

“Today, the mass production of advanced precision and smart missiles became a reality within the IRGC’s aerospace force,” Jafari hailed.

Iran’s defense program not open to negotiation

Elsewhere in his remarks, Jafari said that Iran’s defense might was in line with the country’s deterrence doctrine and was by no means open to negotiations.

“Iran’s defensive capability is deterrent [in nature] and in line with preserving its national security, and it cannot be subjected to any transaction or negotiation,” the commander asserted.

He said the country declares possession of full defensive might on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the victory of its Islamic Revolution.

Jafari also especially addressed European countries’ demands from the country to start negotiations over its missile program before the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) comes into force.

INSTEX is a non-dollar payment mechanism, which European countries have announced to safeguard trade with Iran in the face of the United States’ sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic.

“Today, the Europeans are talking of imposing restrictions and sanctions on our defensive capability, while egregiously, their offensive capability is being used to attack the oppressed and innocent people throughout the world,” he said. “But, we proudly enhance our defensive capability and are not afraid of anything,” the commander stated.

National security a red line

Hajizadeh, meanwhile, described national security as the Iranian Armed Forces’ red line, saying the Dezful missile was the latest outcome of the Aerospace Division’s research activities.

Describing the projectile’s features, he compared the success achieved through its production to that of the Zolfaqar ballistic missile, whose mass production the country began in September 2016. However, Dezful’s range reaches 1,000 kilometers, 300 kilometers above Zolfaqar, and its destructive capability is twice the latter’s “given the special materials used in its warhead,” the commander said.

Hajizadeh also addressed European countries’ recent comments about Iran’s missile might.

Those comments included France’s calling on Iran last month to “immediately cease all ballistic missile-related activities designed to carry nuclear weapons, including tests using ballistic missile technology.”

Iranian authorities have invariably asserted that the country’s missile program has not been established for non-conventional purposes and is only meant as part of the country’s deterrence capability.

The commander reminded that European countries had provided various forms of arms support to the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his 1980-1988 invasion of Iran.

“They should be answerable for their support for Saddam and crimes against the Iranian nation,” he said, adding, “We do not trust the Europeans, and it is better for them not to sacrifice themselves for [US President Donald] Trump.”

He was apparently referring to European countries’ echoing Washington’s stance concerning the Islamic Republic and their trying to similarly exercise pressure on Tehran.b

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