US: Iran likely violated UN resolution with missile launch

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The Obama administration believes that Iran likely violated a United Nations resolution by test-launching a new long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile over the weekend.

The administration has yet to formally refer the matter to the United Nations, but initial analyses suggest that the Sunday launch likely violated a Security Council resolution seeking to undercut Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile powers, a senior administration official said.

“I would put it in the realm of quite likely,” the official said.

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However, the launch would not be in violation of the landmark international agreement struck between the U.S., Iran and other world powers to limit Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, officials insisted.

That agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), “is about one issue and one issue only: Iran’s nuclear program,” the official added.

The ballistic missile launch would be a separate issue that goes beyond the scope of the nuclear pact, they said.

On Sunday, Iran announced the launch of its new precision-guided missile, named Emad, which is Farsi for “pillar.” The missile has the range to attack Israel, Iran’s top regional foe and the target of most of its scorn. 

"The Emad missile is able to strike targets with a high level of precision and completely destroy them,” Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said in a news conference. “This greatly increases Iran's strategic deterrence capability”

Though the Obama administration maintains that the act did not violate the JCPOA, it appears likely to assert that it is a violation of U.N. Security Council 1929, which was passed in 2010 and put limits on Iran’s nuclear powers and ballistic missile activity. A more recent U.N. Security Council resolution signed shortly after the nuclear deal was reached has yet to go into effect.

Now, the U.S. will analyze the ballistic missile test and — assuming officials conclude it is indeed a violation — refer it to a special U.N. body for further action.

“If the recently reported missile tests by Iran violate any existing U.N. Security Council resolutions, we’ll take appropriate actions at the United Nations,” a second senior administration official said. “We will continue to do this for any and all Iranian violations of UNSCRs [U.N. Security Council resolutions].”

The additional analysis won’t be too difficult, the first senior administration official said.

“They were not at all secret about it,” the official said. “They’ve given us plenty to work with.”