Iran: Ballistic Missile Test a ‘Firm Response’ to U.S.

White House vows to press issue in final deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani / AP
February 11, 2014

Iran’s defense minister said on Tuesday that the recent firing of two ballistic missiles was a shot across the bow to the Obama administration, which continues to maintain that the "military option" against Tehran is still on the table.

While Iran is permitted to fire these missiles under the recently signed interim nuclear deal, the White House told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that "Iran’s missile program continues to pose a dangerous threat to region."

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan said the ballistic missile test was aimed at sending a "firm response" to the White House.

"Testing the missiles was a clear response to the U.S. officials’ worn-out phrase 'the military option is on the table,’" Dehqan was quoted as telling the state-run Fars News Agency on Tuesday.

"The successful test-firing of the Iran-made ballistic missiles yesterday was a firm response to the prating and talkativeness of the U.S. officials who threaten the Iranian nation continuously," he reportedly said.

The White House says that it is aware of the missile tests and aims to stop them under a final nuclear agreement with Iran, which it hopes to finalize in the next six months.

"We have seen reports that Iran has tested two missiles. Iran’s missile program continues to pose a dangerous threat to region, and is an issue we monitor closely," White House National Security Council (NSC) spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told the Free Beacon.

The United Nations "Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1929 (2010) prohibits Iran from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology," Meehan explained. "Per the [interim nuclear deal], Iran must address the UN Security Council resolutions related to its nuclear program before a comprehensive resolution can be reached."

U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman admitted last week before Congress that the United States had "not shut down" Iran’s ballistic missile program.

"It is true that in these first six months we’ve not shut down all of their production of any ballistic missile that could have anything to do with delivery of a nuclear weapon," Sherman told lawmakers during a hearing last week on the nuclear deal. "But that is indeed something that has to be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement."

Iran claimed on Monday to have test fired two homemade missiles, including "a laser-guided surface-to-surface and air-to-surface missile and a new generation of long-range ballistic missiles carrying Multiple Reentry Vehicle payloads," according to Fars.

"This missile (Bina) is capable of precisely hitting important targets, including bridges, tanks, military hardware, and command centers of enemies," Dehqan said at the time.

Iran aims to develop technology that can avoid Western anti-missile systems.

"Evading enemy’s anti-missile defense systems, the capability of destroying massive targets, and destroying multiple targets are specifications of this missile," Dehqan said.

Meanwhile, Iranian warships continue to sail towards the U.S. coastline.

Iranian naval commander Habibollah Sayyari confirmed on Tuesday that the ships were on their way to the Atlantic Ocean.

"All countries, including Iran, are entitled to the right to be present in the free waters, and we don’t seek to violate any country’s territorial waters," Sayyari told Fars.

"The Army’s fleet of warships is now in the Gulf of Aden and they are moving towards the Atlantic Ocean," he added.

The Pentagon told the Free Beacon on Monday that Iran’s ships are free to sail in the Atlantic.

"Freedom of the seas applies to all maritime nations, all navies, everywhere—so long as they understand the responsibilities, which come with that freedom," said a Pentagon spokesman. "So, if they are able to send their ships to the Atlantic, I’m sure they won’t be surprised to find many, many others already there."