Iran’s leaders reiterate that the Islamic Republic will not negotiate over its controversial missile program despite mounting international pressure. Abbas Araghchi, deputy foreign minister of Iran, said the country will continue to test new ballistic missiles as planned. “Iran’s missiles exist with full force. And when needed, missile tests will be carried out. And if necessary, Iran will launch missile attacks as it did against Daesh [ISIS in Syria],” he added.  

Separately, the head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force said today that the Islamic Republic has made significant progress in developing its missile, drone and air defense technologies. In a meeting with students in Tehran, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh added that Iranian experts have also made headways in electronic warfare sphere, I.R.G.C.-affiliated Tasnim News Agency reported. He further claimed that Iran and the “resistance front” – a term Iranian leaders use for Tehran’s proxy militant groups in the region – have defeated the United States and its allies in the region. “This indicates that Iran has the upper hand in the region and we also witness this dominance in the Persian Gulf and other areas,” he added.

Comment: International pressure is increasing on Iran to curb its controversial missile program. On December 13, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that Iran may be defying a U.N. resolution that calls upon Tehran to halt ballistic missile development. Europeans powers, too, have indicated that they share the Trump administration’s concern about Iran’s ballistic missile activities although they want to address the issue separately without endangering the 2015 Iran nuclear accord.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s said recently that Iran should clarify its “uncontrolled” ballistic missile strategy. During a press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel Jubeir, the top French diplomat added that “Iran’s role and the different areas where this country operates worries us.” He continued: “I am thinking in particular of Iran’s interventions in regional crises, this hegemonic temptation and I’m thinking of its ballistic program.”

Iranian leadership, however, have maintained that the country will defy international pressure and continue to further develop its missile capabilities.

In an explicit threat to Europe, the I.R.G.C. has also threatened to put Europe within Iran’s missile range if European powers cooperated with Washington against Tehran. “If we have kept the range of our missiles up to 2,000 kilometers and have not increased it, it is not because of technological limitations. This is because we have a strategic doctrine for the range of our missiles,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the deputy I.R.G.C. commander, said in a television interview. “Therefore, the Europeans should know that if they threaten us, we will increase the range of our missiles,” he added, according to I.R.G.C.-affiliated Tasnim News Agency.

While the nuclear agreement does not address Iran’s missile program, the subsequent U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 “calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” Iranian leaders argue that the country’s missiles are not designed to carry nuclear warheads, but U.S. officials say some of the missiles Iran has tested after the 2015 nuclear deal have been "inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons" and are "in defiance of" the U.N. resolution.

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