A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location in Iran. Picture: REUTERS
A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location in Iran. Picture: REUTERS

Dubai/New York — Iran confirmed for the first time that it recently carried out a missile test and told other nations not to meddle in its defence affairs, hours after the US called the launch unacceptable and vowed to act.

Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan said on Wednesday the test was part of Iran’s ongoing defence programme, according to Tasnim news agency. "We have no other aim but to defend our interests and in this path, we will neither seek permission nor allow anyone to interfere."

The launch, in just the second week of Donald Trump’s presidency, is the first test of the new US administration’s policy on the Islamic Republic. A UN resolution that endorses world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran calls on it not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic technology. Iran has maintained it does not have a nuclear weapons programme.

After an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the US called to discuss the missile issue, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Iran’s launch was "absolutely unacceptable".

Any unilateral US sanctions over the missile test would be counterproductive, said Ali Vaez, senior Iran analyst at International Crisis Group. "It is unlikely to dissuade Iran from pursuing what it deems as a sovereign right and legitimate form of defence, while it undermines the nuclear deal that has significantly diminished the threat Iranian missiles pose."

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The US said Iran launched a missile capable of carrying a 500kg payload with a 300km range on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that his country’s missiles were not designed to carry nuclear warheads and were solely for self-defence.

During his election campaign, Trump vowed to scrap or renegotiate the nuclear pact, which lifted international sanctions on Iran in return for curbs and safeguards on its nuclear programme.

While he has not repeated those pledges since taking office, Trump included Iran in an order barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US.

He has also held a lengthy discussion with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s chief rival in the Middle East, which according to the White House included how to tackle Tehran’s "destabilising regional activities".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took a swipe at Trump’s immigration ban on Wednesday, calling it the dangerous comportment of a political rookie.

Bloomberg

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