Iran hits back at EU criticism after missile tests

Iran hits back at EU criticism after missile tests
2 min read
05 February, 2019
Tehran has lashed out at Europe, saying criticism of latest missile test is 'non-constructive'.
Iran's new Hoveizeh missile is reportedly capable of hitting Israel [AFP]
Iran has hit back at the European Union after criticism of its missile programme, regional policies and human rights abuses, slamming the EU's statement as "baseless".

Iran's foreign ministry on Tuesday said the EU's assessment was "non-constructive at this stage, and is in line with the goals of enemies who seek to undermine Iran's relations with Europe".

The EU had on Monday issued a rare joint statement saying it was "gravely concerned by Iran's ballistic missile activity", calling upon Iran "to refrain from these activities".

The EU had targeted Iran's expansion of missile capabilities and increasing tests and launches, saying "these activities deepen mistrust and contribute to regional instability".

The Islamic Republic unveiled its new Hoveizeh cruise missile at the weekend. The new weapon has a reported range of more than 1,350 kilometres, enough to hit Israel.

The expansion of Iran's missile programme could be deemed to be in breach of the 2015 nuclear deal with major world powers, in which Tehran agreed to hold back from missile improvements in exchange for sanctions relief.

Tehran states its missile tests are not in violation of the JCPOA or the affiliated UN Security Council deal. It has maintained that its programme is for the purpose of defence and that its missiles are not capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Iran's role in growing Middle East tensions and human rights abuses, including its use of targeted assassinations, also came under fire from the EU. The Netherlands, Denmark and France have all accused Iran of being behind assassination plots against Iranian dissidents in their countries. 

Although laden with concerns, the EU confirmed its commitment to the nuclear deal, from which US President Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018. European countries have been working to preserve the deal by establishing a barter-type system which skirts direct financial transactions with Iran, avoiding collision with US sanctions.

Analysts have described the EU approach as two-track, whereby the bloc works to preserve the nuclear deal while warning their patience with Iranian missile tests and assassination plots is wearing thin.

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