UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that Iran's ballistic missile tests in March were "not consistent" with the spirit of the nuclear agreement it signed in Vienna. But Iran said it would continue with the program.
The findings posted in a confidential 16-page report did not clearly state whether the Iranian missile tests in March 2016 had directly violated the provisions of the nuclear deal signed in July 2015 in Vienna. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed, however, that it was up to the UN Security Council to determine what should be done to Iran in response to the tests, which are not covered by UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
"While it is for the Security Council to interpret its own resolutions, I am concerned that those ballistic missile launches are not consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated by the signing" of the nuclear deal, Ban's report read.
"I am concerned by the ballistic missile launches conducted by Iran in March 2016."
Under the original terms of the agreement, Tehran had agreed to curb its atomic program after Western powers accused Iran for years of working on developing a nuclear bomb. Iran has always denied those allegations. The deal had led to the lifting of sanctions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed Ban's sentiments and told parliament on Thursday that the missile launches earlier this year were inconsistent with the UN resolution. She urged Iran to refrain for up to eight years from conducting such missile tests.
Her comments were reportedly based on German intelligence reports indicating that elements in the Iranian leadership were trying to undermine the nuclear deal. A number of other governments had previously said that the tests were in defiance of the UN resolution.
Iran remains defiant
Iran meanwhile responded that it would continue its ballistic missile program.
In comments published on Iran's Foreign Ministry website on Saturday, spokesman Bahram Ghasemi stressed that the country's missile program was not linked to the nuclear deal and did not conflict with the UN Security Council resolution.
"Iran will strongly continue its missile program based on its own defense and national security calculations," Ghasemi said.
Ghasemi added that the comments by Chancellor Merkel were "not constructive" and would have no bearing on the program, according to Iran's state news agency IRNA.
Security Council to discuss report
The report was the first of its kind regarding the application of the July 2015 nuclear accord. The Security Council is due to examine the report's findings on July 18; however, it is unlikely that any course of action will be taken after the meeting owing to divisions within the Council.
A Security Council diplomat reportedly told the Agence France-Presse news agency that the report made "no recommendations to the Security Council."
"Having a report by the secretary-general is very useful, but it is up to us to decide what we are going to do about it," the diplomat said.
ss/tj (AFP, AP, Reuters)