A U.S. official has told CNN that Iran has the ability to launch a three-stage rocket with a satellite on top “at any minute.”
It would be Iran’s first ever launch of this configuration, and like the North Korean test earlier this year, would give Iran further insights into intercontinental ballistic missile technology.
The assessment followed reports in Iran’s state media that it had test-fired two ballistic missiles last Wednesday. The day before that, Iran conducted other missile tests that Washington suggested were in violation of a U.N. resolution adopted last year in the wake of an historic agreement by Tehran to curtail its nuclear program.
The tests were criticized by both the U.N. Security Council, which held a closed meeting late Monday to discuss Iran’s actions, and the European Union.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Iran’s actions could raise tensions in an already volatile region.
U.S. officials said that the first tests did not violate the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but were very likely in breach of a U.N. resolution calling on Iran not to undertake ballistic missile activity.
Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported Tuesday that the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had said that the drill had Iran’s enemies “shivering from the roar” of the missiles.
U.S. ‘will act’
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden assured Israel that if Iran broke the terms of the nuclear deal, “we will act.”
“We are united in the belief that a nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, the region and the United States,” he said.
In a possible reference to Iran’s latest missile tests, Biden said: “All their conventional activity outside the deal, which is still beyond the deal, we will and are attempting to act wherever we can find it.”
In January, the U.S. Treasury Department levied sanctions against 11 entities and individuals it said were working on behalf of the ballistic missile program.
Iran’s development of the technology has raised concerns that it could equip the missiles with nuclear warheads, which Tehran insists it does not possess.
Source: CNN, 15 March 2016