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Iran defends plan to improve missile accuracy

January 29, 2019

Iran says it is working to improve the precision of its missiles for defense purposes. At the same time, the German-governed plan with France and the UK for payments to Iran despite US sanctions is moving ahead.

A medium-range missile, Sejil 2, is launched by Iranian army forces at an undisclosed location in Iran in 2009
Image: picture-alliance/EPA/STR

Iran on Tuesday said it had no plan to increase the range of its missiles, but would continue to work on its satellite technology to improve accuracy.

"[Iran] is continuously working on increasing the precision of the missiles, and has no intention to increase their range," Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's National Security Council said.

Read more: Iranians feel the pressure of new US sanctions

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said Iran's missile capabilities were non-negotiable, dismissing a call by European countries and the United States for its missile technology to be restricted.

"The enemies say Iran's missile power should be eliminated, but we have repeatedly said our missile capabilities are not negotiable," Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

Read more: Iran sanctions: 5 things to know

Germany, France and UK: 'Special Purpose Vehicle'

The "Special Purpose Vehicle" (SPV) is being put together by Germany, France and Britain, the European signatories to the 2015 accord that curbed Tehran's nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief. It will be based in France with German governance and finance from all three countries.

The SPV will allow Iran to receive payments despite Washington reimposing sanctions after dropping its adherence to the accord.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels on Monday that: "As far as the Special Purpose Vehicle is concerned: it will be registered, it has not yet been registered, but I would say that the implementation of our plan is imminent."

Maas said the EU's aim was to ensure that: "Business not sanctioned by the US can be upheld, and there is a suitable instrument for international payments."

US pressure with fines

The US has issued a list of 12 demands that Tehran must meet if it wants sanctions to be dropped, including an end to military engagement in Syria and a complete halt to alleged nuclear and ballistic missile development.

Read more: US policy spreads gloom in Iran

The US has warned European companies that they could face hefty fines and penalties if they attempt to sidestep the sanctions, but the EU has insisted that the nuclear deal is essential for regional and global security.

EU debates statement

Although the SPV is the work of three countries, the EU wants to launch it along with a formal statement on Iran endorsed by all 28 member states that addresses all European concerns about the Islamic republic.

Italy and Spain are reported to have reservations on the statement, which will be discussed by EU ministers on February 12.

law/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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