The Trump administration is warning Iran that its recent test of ballistic missile technology could violate international resolutions governing the nuclear agreement, a senior U.S. official told the Washington Free Beacon.
Iran on Sunday again tested its ballistic missile technology, despite multiple warnings from the international community. Ballistic missiles could be armed with a nuclear payload and potentially reach America.
The test drew outrage from many U.S. lawmakers who oppose the nuclear agreement and could set the stage for a showdown between the newly installed Trump administration and the Islamic Republic.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told the Free Beacon that the administration is closely following reports on Iran's latest missile test and remains "deeply troubled" by the Islamic Republic's continued provocations in the region.
"We're aware of reports that Iran conducted a medium-range ballistic missile test in recent days," Toner said. "We are looking into these reports. We are, however, well aware of and deeply troubled by Iran's longstanding provocative and irresponsible activities and we call on Iran to cease such provocations."
Toner would not label the recent test a violation of the nuclear accord, but hinted that it could be the case. It remains unclear how exactly the Trump administration plans to respond to Iran's latest actions.
"All countries, including Iran, must fully and effectively implement all the provisions of [United Nations] resolution 2231," which governs the Iran nuclear deal, Toner said. "When actions are taken that violate or are inconsistent with the resolution, we will act to hold Iran accountable and urge other countries to do so as well. We vigorously enforce the measures contained in UNSCR 2231 related to the transfer of items related to ballistic missiles."
Iranian leaders on Tuesday maintained that ballistic missile research does not violate the nuclear accord. Obama administration officials were vague in their responses to Iran's other recent tests, only going so far as to label the actions "inconsistent" with the nuclear deal.
"As all parties present in the negotiations on the nuclear deal know, the missile issue is not a part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was quoted as saying on Tuesday during a joint press conference in Tehran with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Zarif went on to "caution" the Trump administration against escalating tensions with Tehran.
"We will never use a weapon against others but to defend ourselves; Iran has never started any war but it bravely defends its dignity against foreign aggression," Zarif was quoted as saying in Iran's state-controlled media.
"We hope that Iran's defense programs which are out of the sphere of the Resolution 2231 and the nuclear deal will not become a pretext for political games," Zarif added.
Meanwhile, Iran also has begun testing advanced nuclear centrifuges capable of enrichment uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, even faster than previously possible.
Iran has begun injecting uranium into these next generation centrifuges, according to officials.
"The successful testing of the advanced generation of the IR-8 centrifuges and injecting uranium hexafluoride (UF6) into them are of paramount importance," Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, disclosed on Monday.