Following strong condemnation by the Unites States two of its major European allies, France and Germany, have also criticized Iran’s launch of a military satellite into space.
In what is seen by many as a violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution, Iran on April 22 launched a ballistic missile carrying what it said was a military satellite into orbit. The resolution in question was adopted by UNSC as part of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Germany and France still remain committed to the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), although the U.S. left the accord in 2018.
In a statement on Thursday, France condemned Iran’s move, saying this was in contravention of UNSC Resolution 2231.
Paris also called on Tehran to immediately cease all activities related to the development of ballistic missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
“The Iranian ballistics program is a major concern for regional and international security. It contributes to the destabilization of the region and the rise in tensions,” the statement said.
The reference to the resolution by France can be important, because if Iran is found to be violating a UN decision, the West can ask the Security Council to reinstate international sanctions.
Expressing concern over Iran's move, Germany also said that Berlin's position on the Islamic Republic missile program has not changed, and the program has a destabilizing impact on the region.
Regarding Europe's security interests, Iran's missile program is unacceptable, Germany asserted.
However, Russia, itself a permanent member of the UNSC has come to Iran’s defense on the issue.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, on Thursday dismissed the U.S. claim that Iran violated resolution 2231 and accused Washington of being in violation of the nuclear deal.
Addressing a news conference in Moscow on Thursday, she said that this would not be the first time that a nation (U.S.) that has "flagrantly breached the norms of international law and violated the UNSC resolution 2231" is trying to deflect international condemnation by baseless accusations against Iran and its incompliance with the requirements of the Security Council.
Furthermore, Zakharova maintained that Tehran has had not engaged in producing nuclear weapons or manufacturing missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Iran and the six world powers, Britain, China, France, Russia, and the U.S.A. reached a nuclear deal in 2015, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2231. Based on one of the clauses of the resolution, the international community "calls on Iran" not to produce or develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
President Barack Obama and his successor, Donald Trump, each extended the deal twice.
Nevertheless, in May 2018, President Donald Trump announced Washington's withdrawal from the deal, referring to the serious weaknesses of the JCPOA, especially its "Sunset Clause".
On Wednesday, April 22, the IRGC-linked news agencies, Fars and Tasnim, and then the Sepah (IRGC) News website, reported that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps had "successfully" launched a military satellite into Earth orbit.
The "Noor" satellite was carried by the "Qassid" (also spelled as Ghassed) two-stage missile from the "Central Desert of Iran" to the "425 km orbit of the Earth".
Iran insists its missile program is defensive.