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US says will raise Iranian missile test at UN Security Council

Iranian state television broadcast unprecedented footage on Wednesday of a deep underground tunnel packed with missiles and launcher units, which officials said could be used if “enemies make a mistake”.

The pictures were released just three days after Iran tested a new long-range missile that the United States said may have breached a UN Security Council resolution.

The footage also came a day after Iran’s parliament approved the country’s July 14 nuclear deal with six world powers.

Iranian officials have said the nuclear agreement will not affect its military forces, particularly its ballistic missile programme.

The missile launch and underground footage followed pressure from lawmakers to prove the military had not been weakened by the deal.

The tunnel, hundreds of metres long and about 10 metres high, was filled with missiles and hardware. Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division, said numerous such tunnels exist across the country at a depth of 500 metres.

“The Islamic republic’s long-range missile bases are stationed and ready under the high mountains in all the country’s provinces and cities,” he said, according to the Guards’ website.

The commander said the missiles were ready to be launched from all over Iran, on the order of “the supreme commander-in-chief”, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“This is a sample of our massive missile bases,” he said, adding that “a new and advanced generation of long-range liquid and solid fuel missiles” would start to replace the current weapons next year.

The commander seemed to suggest the show of strength was in response to Western powers, especially the US, which despite the nuclear deal, have said options against Iran, including the military one, remain on the table.

“Those who pin hope on options on the table, should only have a look at the Islamic republic’s army options under the table. “Hajizadeh said Iran would not start any war but “if enemies make a mistake, missile bases will erupt like a volcano from the depth of earth”.

An image grab of Islamic Republic of Iran News Network reportedly shows missile launchers in an underground tunnel at an unknown location in Iran.

US TO RAISE ISSUE AT UN:

“We’ll obviously raise this at the UNSC as we have done in previous launches,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters, noting the test appeared to be a violation of UN Security resolution 1929.

He and White House spokesperson Josh Earnest both said the issue was separate from a deal Iran struck in July with six world powers, which seeks to curb Tehran’s atomic program in return for having sanctions against it eased.

Ballistic missile tests by Iran are banned under Security Council resolution 1929, which dates from 2010 and remains valid until the July 14 nuclear deal goes into effect.

Once the deal takes effect, Iran will still be “called upon” not to undertake any ballistic missiles work designed to deliver nuclear weapons for a period of up to eight years, according to a Security Council resolution adopted in July.

The resolution says that when the deal is in effect countries will be allowed to transfer missile technology and heavy weapons to Iran on a case-by-case basis with council approval.

However, at the time the resolution was drafted, a US official called this provision meaningless and said the United States would veto any suggested transfer of missile technology to Iran.

Speaking on Tuesday, White House spokesman Earnest made clear countries could more to stop the flow of ballistic missile technology to Iran.

“That is work that requires international cooperation,” he said, adding that Washington was ready to work with Gulf allies to counter Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Iran state television showed on Sunday what it said was a successful launch of the new Iranian missile, named Emad, which appears to be Tehran’s first precision-guided weapon with the range to strike its regional enemy Israel.

Britain’s UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters in New York that “the existing (sanctions) architecture remains in place” for the time being, adding that the council’s Iran sanctions committee should look into the incident.

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