US officials are hyping the launching of a missile by the Iranian government from a site east of Tehran, saying it amounted to a medium-range ballistic missile and might conceivably violate the UN Security Council prohibition on Iran developing “ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.”
US officials have interpreted that language as meaning ballistic missiles in general are banned, and have gotten riled up every time Iran tests any sort of ballistic missile, even ones plainly unsuited to carrying a nuclear payload. Iran hasn’t commented on this most recent test, but noted previous tests were of conventional missiles for defensive purposes, which are not banned.
Some have argued that the ban is practically obsolete in the wake of the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, as Iran plainly has reduced their civilian nuclear program to the point where it would be totally impossible for them to fabricate a nuclear warhead even if they tried, and the missiles clearly can’t be for nuclear weapons.
Some US hawks, however, suggest that since the ban is not just on those missiles capable of nuclear weapons but also on “activity related” to such theoretical missiles, they can expand the ban to pretty much anything Iran does, under the argument it might conceivably improve their ability to make such missiles if they ever want to in the future.
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