Russia opposes new sanctions on Iran over ballistic missile tests

Friday 11/03/2016
Latest tests are not aimed at developing nuclear capability

UNITED NATIONS - Russia opposes imposing sanctions on Iran over recent ballistic missile tests that Moscow's ambassador to the United Nations said Monday were not in violation of a UN resolution.

Asked whether the Security Council should impose penalties on Iran, Vitaly Churkin said: "The clear and short answer is no."

The council met Monday at the request of the United States to discuss the missile tests that US Ambassador Samantha Power has said were "provocative and destabilizing."

But Churkin said Iran was not in violation of a UN resolution that endorsed the nuclear deal reached between Western powers and Tehran.

That resolution calls on Iran to refrain from developing ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Tehran maintains that the latest missile tests, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, were not aimed at developing a nuclear capability.

Britain said it will ask UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to prepare a report on the missile launches to make a determination on whether there was a violation of resolution 2231.

"We judge that Iran is in blatant disregard of Resolution 2231," said British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft ahead of the meeting held behind closed doors.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said "we are worried, because we are in a case of non-compliance with 2231."

The United States slapped sanctions on Iran in January over its ballistic missile program, even as the world hailed the implementation of the historic nuclear deal.

But Russia's stance as a veto-wielding member of the council all but ruled out the possibility of UN sanctions against Iran.

Power said Iranian military leaders had claimed that the missiles were designed to be a direct threat to Israel and added: "We condemn such threats against another UN member-state and one of our closest allies."

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon called on the council to take action against Iran, arguing that failure to do so "will give Iran a green light to continue with its nuclear missile tests."