missile Iran
© Reuters/Mahmood Hosseini
A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location in Iran, 2016
Iran says it will "resolutely continue" its ballistic missile program. Tehran claims the program does not violate the deal it signed with Western powers in 2015, and accuses the West of selectively interpreting a UN resolution.

"Iran is determined to resolutely continue its activities related to ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles," the country's UN envoy Majid Takhte Ravanchi wrote in a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday.

The letter was drafted after British, French and German ambassadors sent a letter of their own to Guterres on Wednesday, claiming that social media footage captured this year showed that Iran's new Shehab-3 ballistic missile is capable of carrying a nuclear payload. The Western representatives also cited an International Atomic Energy Agency warning that Iran was researching such a payload for the Shebab-3.

In response, Ravanchi rubbished the "unreliable" social media sources and the testimony of the IAEA, whose purview is nuclear energy, and not missile technology.

Furthermore, the envoy argued that according to the terms of 2015's Security Council resolution 2231, none of the country's missiles are "designed to be" exclusively capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and are therefore not limited by the resolution.

In trumping up the nuclear threat, Ravanchi accused the US and Europeans of attempting to "demonize benign technologies such as space technology that are critical for the socioeconomic development of all nations, particularly developing countries." The envoy maintains that Iran's satellite launches have been deliberately misconstrued as breaches of the resolution.

Resolution 2231 endorsed the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran Deal), a landmark agreement between Iran, the EU, and the Security Council's five permanent members. Under the deal, Iran agreed to halt its nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. Since the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed economic sanctions, Iran has steadily rolled back its commitments under the agreement, arguing that the remaining parties have not done enough to guarantee Iran's economic security in the face of Washington's penalties.