by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Jan 31, 2017
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday warned the United States against "creating new tensions" with Tehran over ballistic missile tests.
"We hope that Iran's defence programme is not used by the new US administration... as a pretext to create new tensions," Zarif said in a televised press conference with visiting French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.
The UN Security Council is due to hold emergency talks called by Washington on Tuesday on Iran's recent test-firing of a medium-range missile, which Tehran has not confirmed.
Zarif said Washington -- under former president Barack Obama -- and Paris had "repeatedly confirmed" that Iran's missiles are not part of a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
Iran says its missiles do not breach United Nations resolutions because they are for defence purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.
"We have always declared that we will never use our weapons against others except in our defence," Zarif said.
Ayrault said France had expressed its concerns over the missile tests.
"France has expressed its concern at Iran's continuation of its ballistic missile tests on several occasions," he said.
He said the continued tests are "contrary to the spirit" of the Security Council resolution which enshrined a landmark July 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, and "hamper the process of restoring the confidence established by the Vienna agreement."
The two top diplomats also criticised Trump's recent executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, among them Iran, from entering the US for 90 days.
Zarif slammed the new administration's "shameful act of denying entry to people holding legal visas for that country which suffers from a poor international status", referring to the United States.
Ayrault had said after arriving in Tehran on Monday night that it would be "common sense" for Trump to scrap the travel ban.
UN Security Council to hold urgent talks on Iran missile test
The United States requested the emergency consultations after the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations called for council action.
"In light of Iran's January 29 launch of a medium-range ballistic missile, the United States has requested urgent consultations of the Security Council," the US mission said in a statement.
The talks on Iran will follow a meeting on Syria scheduled for 10:00 am (1500 GMT).
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said the missile test violated UN resolutions that bar Iran from launching ballistic missiles that could have a nuclear capability.
"The international community must not bury its head in the sand in the face of this Iranian aggression," said Danon.
"The Security Council members must act immediately in response to these Iranian actions which endanger not only Israel, but the entire Middle East."
It was the first request for council consultations made by the United States since new US Ambassador Nikki Haley took office.
US President Donald Trump has promised to strengthen ties with Israel and has sharply criticized the Iran nuclear deal that led to a lifting of international sanctions against Tehran.
Trump is due to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 15.
A Security Council resolution adopted a few days after the 2015 nuclear agreement bars Iran from developing missiles "designed to carry nuclear warheads."
Iran has said its missiles would never carry a nuclear warhead as it has no plans to develop atomic weapons, but military officials have insisted on expanding the country's missile program.
Britain, France and the United States have sought council action over Iranian missiles launches last year, but Russia and China opposed discussion of possible sanctions that they argued would jeopardize the hard-fought nuclear deal.
The deal reached with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States imposed curbs on Iran's nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions.
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