WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called for Iran to be held accountable for the launch of a military satellite, adding that he thinks the action violated a United Nations Security Council resolution.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said on Wednesday it had successfully launched the country’s first military satellite into orbit, at a time of heightened tensions with the United States over Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs.
U.S. officials have said they fear long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran denies U.S. assertions that such activity is a cover for ballistic missile development and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.
A 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons following an agreement with six world powers. Some states argue the language does not make it obligatory.
“I think every nation has an obligation to go to the United Nations and evaluate whether this missile launch was consistent with that Security Council resolution,” Pompeo said at a news conference.
“I don’t think it remotely is, and I think Iran needs to be held accountable for what they have done,” he added.
Most U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran were lifted in January 2016 when the U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed that Tehran fulfilled its commitments under the nuclear deal with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States. But Iran is still subject to a U.N. arms embargo, which is due to expire in October, and other restrictions.
The U.N. sanctions and restrictions on Iran are contained in the 2015 resolution, which also enshrines the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. European powers have been scrambling to salvage the deal following the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement in 2018.