Iran’s army chief vowed this week that the country would continue to develop its missile programme to “become stronger”, and while specifically referring to Israel warned that “it is a threat against our enemies”.
Speaking to the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency, army chief Ataollah Salehi said: “Iran’s missile capability and its missile programme will become stronger. We do not pay attention and do not implement resolutions against Iran, and this is not a violation of the nuclear deal”.
He continued: “Our missile programme is not a threat against our friends but it is a threat against our enemies. Israel should understand what it means,” Salehi said.
The army chief’s comments coincided with the visit of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the UK on Thursday.
A formal nuclear agreement – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – between Iran and the P5+1 was signed in Vienna on 14th July 2015, following two years of negotiations.
Under the deal reached, the majority of international sanctions imposed on Iran were lifted in January 2016, however, sanctions imposed on its missile programme remain intact.
According to a July 2015 United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing the deal, Iran is still “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.
In October, Iran violated the United Nations ban by testing a precision-guided ballistic missile, prompting a U.S. threat to impose more sanctions. In December, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani ordered Iran’s missile programme to be expanded and last month Iranian state TV unveiled a second underground missile storage facility, days after the United States threatened to impose fresh sanctions.