Report: Iran to Strengthen Missile Program

ANKARA (Reuters) -
This picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, claims to show the launching of an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile in an undisclosed location. Iran successfully test fired a new guided long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile, state TV reported on Sunday. It was the first such a test since Iran and world powers reach a historical nuclear deal. Iran's Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan, told the channel that the liquid-fuel missile "will obviously boost the strategic deterrence capability of our armed forces." (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)
This picture released by the official site of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Oct. 11, 2015, claims to show the launching of an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile in an undisclosed location. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

Iran will continue to develop its missile program and it should not be considered a threat to neighboring and friendly countries, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted the head of the army as saying on Thursday.

Despite last month’s easing of sanctions against Iran, it remains in dispute with the United States over its development and testing of ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

According to a July 20 United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing the deal, Iran is still “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

In October, Iran violated a United Nations ban by testing a precision-guided ballistic missile, prompting a U.S. threat to impose more sanctions. In December President Hassan Rouhani ordered Iran’s missile program to be expanded.

“Iran’s missile capability and its missile program will become stronger. We do not pay attention and do not implement resolutions against Iran, and this is not a violation of the nuclear deal,” Fars quoted commander in chief Ataollah Salehi as saying.

He was referring to Iran’s deal with world powers last year to curb a nuclear program that the West feared, despite Tehran’s denials, was aimed at acquiring atomic weapons.

“Our missile program is not a threat against our friends but it is a threat against our enemies. Israel should understand what it means,” Salehi said.

Opposition to Israel, which Tehran refuses to recognize since its 1979 Islamic revolution, is a central policy in the Muslim Shiite-dominated country.