Alwaght- The United Nations Security Council met on Tuesday at the request of Britain and France to discuss Iran’s missile program. The meeting, ended without any resolution or statement, followed the comments by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who claimed Tehran has recently tested a new mid-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that violated the UN resolution 2231.
Responding to the US claims, the spokesman for Iranian Foreign Ministry Bahram Ghasemi stressed the “defensive nature” of Tehran’s missile program, adding that no UN resolution puts a ban on missile tests or the Islamic Republic's missile program.
Despite the failure to build consensus against Iran at the UN, the Western diplomats kept repeating their claims against Tehran and said the tests were non-compliant with the UN resolution 2231.
Aiming to shed light on various aspects of the case, Alwaght has talked to two Iranian international affairs experts, university professor Mehdi Motaharnia and former diplomat Hussein Sheikhuleslam.
Different interpretations of resolution main cause of differences
Mr Motaharnia, commenting on the two sides’ arguments about violation or compliance with the UN resolution, said that the UN resolutions as legal documents are open to various interpretations. The resolution 2231 on the Iranian missile program within the framework of the nuclear deal tries to introduce some suspensions to the Iranian missile program as a requirement to the implementation of the nuclear agreement. It, according to him, wants to gives guarantees to remove the accusations against the Iranian missile program.
“It, in fact, the resolution aims to create a UNSC-backed legal mechanism to give guarantees to the Western parties who claim Iran attempts to obtain nuclear-capable intercontinental missiles and to give the Iran the right to develop missile defense capabilities with regard to regional and international threats it is facing.”
Now with the Iranian missile tests and the US media propaganda launched after Iran hit the terrorist sites abroad by its missiles following terrorist attacks inside the country, each side is delivering its own interpretation of the resolution. While the US argues the resolution was violated by Iran, Tehran responds that no violation has ever happened and Washington’s allegations are baseless.
“This conflict of views stems from conflicting interpretations of the two main sides of the argument. Washington has a limited interpretation of the nuclear agreement and resolution 2231 but Tehran finds it comprehensive. Via this resolution, the US wants to isolate Iran and cut international cooperation with it but Iran finds the document a window allowing it to develop missile defense within legal boundaries. This is the point of conflict based on which Washington pulled of 2015 nuclear accord. Despite not being a party to it now, the US tries to paint Iran’s missile strength a threat to the European and global security.”
Iran needs missile capability due to special geopolitical conditions
Mr Motaharnia pointed to a long-living Iranian need to preserve military power to address various security challenges. He argued that Iranian geopolitical position made the country a target of superpowers as well as regional powers which seek privileges in different political situations.
“Iran has always been a country subject to aggression. Various powers have always done their best to use Iran as their play court in a war of interests. We can look back to the Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan’s invasions of Iran centuries ago to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein’s war against the country in the new era. We also remember Iran being the “bridge of victory” for the Allied Powers in WWII despite Tehran’s declaration of neutrality. All these events showed that Iran has a special geopolitical position that necessitates a high-level defense power. This is not peculiar to the post-Revolution Iran. Shah of Iran also tried to equip the navy with warships to secure the country's superiority in the sea.”
The US terrified of Iranian missile power
On the other side, Mr Sheikhuleslam pointed to the reasons why the US focuses on Iran’s missile program. He noted that Washington’s policy is tuned to pressures against Iran and the Americans do everything, no matter how much illogical, to realize their goal.
“We say illogical because the US with its pullout of the nuclear deal and absence of commitment is the main violator of the resolution 2231. This is while the resolution applies to nuclear-capable missiles and so Iran has not breached the resolution. Washington cites for its argument a resolution it broke.”
Mr Sheikhuleslam added that Iran has made serious developments in the missile industry at all levels and that is what frustrates Iran’s enemies, especially the US. The missile has many advantages in terms of production and use. Iran has high-accuracy missiles. When ISIS attacked Iran’s parliament last year, Tehran concluded the terrorist group’s operation room was in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor. As a result, it launched missiles from 750 kilometers away and destroyed their headquarters. Iranian drones documented the accuracy of the attack by sending live pictures to command centers in Iran.
“Such a capability is unstoppable. The only countering instrument is anti-missile systems while are non-viable when missiles are launched in large numbers. On the other hand, anti-missile systems, due to their highly complicated technology, are so extensive. So anti-missile systems are a failed choice. For example, take the much-vaunted Israeli Iron Dome air defenses that proved inefficient in the face of Gaza-based Hamas rockets.”
The former diplomat continued that Iran’s military strength, thus, lies in its missile power, something the US seeks to curb. When asked about the result of a possible attack on Iran, Robert Gates, former Secretary of State, said Washington will sink its warships by an anti-Iranian attack, referring to Tehran’s missile response.
“In a strategic war, the result, not the cost, matters. If the US, or the Israeli regime, want to wage a war against Iran, they need to come out victorious at any price. This is unrealizable with Iran having a strong missile power. As a result, they seek to restrict the Iranian military power, which is impossible.”
Western double standards
Mr Sheikhuleslam brought in the spotlight the recent UNSC session by raising the largely paradoxical Western policy in dealing with Iranian conventional missiles and the Israeli nuclear bombs that remain close to the international investigation.
“Double standards have always been part of the Western policy. In Khashoggi killing case, the White House supported bin Salman and cleared him from murder to preserve the multi-billion arms deals with Saudi Arabia. But, on the other side, Yemen lives under bombing of Saudi-led coalition and Iran comes under accusations. Despite US-EU differences on Iran nuclear deal, they agree when it comes to Israeli security and restricting Iran’s military power".