Hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened Iran via Twitter statement over plans to fire off Space Launch Vehicles with, as Pompeo claimed, "virtually the same technology as ICBMs" in a "defiant" launch that will "advance its missile program," Iran has responded. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shot back via Twitter saying "Iran's launch of space vehicles — & missile tests — are NOT in violation of Res 2231," which is the UN resolution which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) on Iran's nuclear program — which the Trump administration pulled out of last May.
FM Zarif wrote on Thursday in response to Pompeo while warning "threats engender threats" and linking to the UN text:
Iran's launch of space vehicles — & missile tests — are NOT in violation of Res 2231. The US is in material breach of same, & as such it is in no position to lecture anyone on it. Reminder to the US: 1. Res 1929 is dead; 2. threats engender threats, while civility begets civility.
Iran’s defense ministry previously announced plans for three Space Launch Vehicle (SLV) launches in “the coming months,” according to an official statement. This after in late November Iranian Deputy Defense Minister General Qassem Taqizadeh first unveiled plans to send three Iranian made satellites into space soon.
“The satellites have been made by domestic experts and will be put on various orbits,” Taqizadeh said.
Iran's launch of space vehicles— & missile tests—are NOT in violation of Res 2231. The US is in material breach of same, & as such it is in no position to lecture anyone on it.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 3, 2019
Reminder to the US:
1. Res 1929 is dead;
2. threats engender threats, while civility begets civility. pic.twitter.com/9niN852Jii
The last time Iran conducted a space launch was in July 2017, which the US State Department had warned was "provocative". The US has long held that United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 prevents any activity related to ballistic missile technology; however, Iran says the wording leaves open the possibility of missile development programs unrelated to the delivery of nuclear weapons.
The resolution says that Iran “is called upon” not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles "designed to be capable" of nuclear warhead delivery while stopping short of explicitly banning the activity.
#Iran plans to fire off Space Launch Vehicles with virtually same technology as ICBMs. The launch will advance its missile program. US, France, UK & Germany have already stated this is in defiance of UNSCR 2231. We won't stand by while the regime threatens international security.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 3, 2019
Pompeo's Thursday statement follows prior similar warnings. “The United States has continuously cautioned that ballistic missile and SLV launches by the Iranian regime have a destabilizing effect on the region and beyond,” Pompeo said. “France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and many nations from around the world have also expressed deep concern.”
Iran, meanwhile, has always maintained it is free to develop a "peaceful" space program — something Western think tank analysts and officials have condemned as a "cover" for developing military missile technologies.