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US Calls On Europe, Others To Take Action Against Iran After Satellite Launch

An Iranian rocket carrying a satellite is prepared for launch from an undisclosed site believed to be in the Semnan province, April 22, 2020
An Iranian rocket carrying a satellite is prepared for launch from an undisclosed site believed to be in the Semnan province, April 22, 2020

In its latest move to garner diplomatic support against Iran for having launched a military satellite, the U.S. State Department issued a statement on April 25 calling on other countries to “reject” Iran’s move.

"All peace-loving nations must reject Iran’s development of ballistic-missile capable technologies and join together to constrain Iran’s dangerous missile programs", The statement said.

Lambasting the leaders of the clergy-dominated Iran for "lying", and "secrecy", the statement added, "As a start, nations should support extending the UN conventional arms embargo on Iran, which is set to expire this October."

While describing the Islamic Republic as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism, the statement insists that Tehran should not be allowed to buy and sell conventional weapons.

Furthermore, the statement has directly addressed the European Union to join Washington and sanction those individuals and entities working on Iran’s missile program.

Britain, France, and Germany have already condemned Iran's latest move in launching a satellite into space. The three are still party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. After extending the deal for four times, Washington withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and imposed batches of back-breaking economic sanctions on Tehran.

Iran has always maintained it is not pursuing nuclear weapons and its missile program is for conventional self-defense.

"For years, Iran has claimed its space program is purely peaceful and civilian. The Trump Administration has never believed this fiction. This week’s launch of a military satellite by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, makes clear what we have said all along: Iran’s space program is neither peaceful nor entirely civilian," the statement asserted on Saturday.

The statement follows a tweet by the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Saturday, saying, "Iran continues to lie that the Revolutionary Guard's space program is peaceful when in reality it is part of the country's nuclear weapons program".

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 the UN Security Council as part of the JCPOA.

In a statement on Thursday, France condemned Iran’s move, saying this was in contravention of UNSC Resolution 2231.

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.

A day later, on Friday, Britain also said that Iran's launch of a military satellite using ballistic missile technology was of significant concern and inconsistent with UNSC Resolution 2231.

However, Russia, itself a permanent member of the UNSC and still a party to the JCPOA 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.

Nonetheless, according to the State Department's Saturday statement, "This satellite launch vehicle and others launched before it, incorporate technologies identical to, and interchangeable with, ballistic missiles, including longer-range systems such as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). No country has ever pursued an ICBM capability except for the purpose of delivering nuclear weapons."

Referring to the deadly outbreak of the new coronavirus in Iran, the statement has concluded, "When the Iranian people are suffering and dying from the coronavirus pandemic, it is regrettable to see the regime waste its resources and efforts on provocative military pursuits that do nothing to help the Iranian people."