US ‘Relentless’ to Deter Iran Missile Program

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Source: Asharq Al-Awsat

 

The United States has vowed to remain “relentless” in pressuring Iran to deter its missile program following Tehran’s unveiling of a new ballistic weapon days after testing a cruise missile.

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

“We must bring back tougher international restrictions to deter Iran’s missile program,” he added, according to Agence France Presse.

“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 behavior – including by fully implementing all of our sanctions.”

A US national flag and its shadow on the Harry S. Truman Building at the Department of State are pictured in Washington, in this October 24, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files

Tehran reined in most of its nuclear program 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 reimposed sanctions on Iran, citing the program among its reasons.

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

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

Fars news agency published pictures of an underground missile factory called “underground city”, saying the “Dezful” missile was a version of the Zolfaghar missile that has a 700 km range and a 450 kg warhead. 

The move was the latest show of military might by the country as it celebrates the 40th anniversary of the revolution.

Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khameneisaid Friday that Europe “cannot be trusted”, a week after the EU launched a trade mechanism to bypass US sanctions on Tehran.

“These days there’s talk of the Europeans and their proposals. My advice is that they shouldn’t be trusted, just like the Americans,” he said at a meeting with air force officials, his website reported.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t have relations with them. This is about trust,” he added.

Britain, France and Germany last week launched a special payment mechanism called INSTEX to help save the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

It would allow Tehran to keep trading with EU companies in spite of US sanctions renewed after Washington quit the accord last year.

Tehran has cautiously welcomed INSTEX as a “first step”, but US officials said the new entity would not have any impact on efforts to exert economic pressure on Iran.

Khamenei also accused Europe of hypocrisy over human rights, criticising France’s treatment of protesters in Paris.

“They (anti-riot police) attack protesters in Paris streets and blind them, then they have the audacity to make human rights requests of us,” he said.

Turning to the United States, Khamenei said Iranians would chant “death to America” as long as Washington kept up its hostile policies, but the slogan was not directed at the American people.

“Death to America means death to (President Donald) Trump, (National Security Advisor) John Bolton and (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo. It means death to America’s rulers … we have nothing against the American people,” he said.

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