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UN Secretary General: Iran's missile tests violate spirit of nuclear deal

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, April 18, 2013

OLIVIER DOULIERY, ABACA PRESS/MCT

By KAMBIZ FOROOHAR | Bloomberg | Published: July 8, 2016

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Iran is keeping its pledge to reduce its nuclear program but that it isn't cooperating on other issues such as restrictions on its ballistic missile program.

In the world body's first report on the nuclear deal that took effect six months ago, Ban also took note of Iran's complaints that promised economic benefits have yet to materialize.

Iran's ballistic missile launches "are not consistent with the constructive spirit" of the agreement between the government in Tehran and six world powers, Ban said in a report that was marked "confidential." He also cited a seized arms shipment believed to have originated in Iran that was bound for Yemen, possible Iranian weapons shipments to Iraq and trips by Revolutionary Guards commanders who are subject to a travel ban.

Still, Ban said that Iran is meeting its obligations to reduce its nuclear program under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action completed in January with China, France, Germany, Russia the U.K. and the U.S. Most nuclear-related sanctions were lifted, although Iran is still subject to restrictions on ballistic missile tests and a U.N. arms embargo.

The Iranians have argued that Iran is under no obligation to stop its ballistic missile program, which is overseen by the powerful Revolutionary Guards, because -- under a compromise that was part of the nuclear negotiations -- a new U.N. Security Council resolution eased previous restrictions. Instead, the Islamic Republic is merely "called upon" to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for as long as eight years, under the Iran deal.

"I call upon Iran to refrain from conducting such ballistic missile launches since they have the potential to increase tensions in the region," Ban wrote in his first biannual report to the 15-member Security Council. "While it is for the Security Council to interpret its own resolutions, I am concerned that those ballistic missile launches are not consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated by the signing of the JCPOA."

Iran has protested that it has yet to fully benefit from the lifting of multilateral and national sanctions, Ban's report said. Its concerns include a Supreme Court ruling that American victims of terrorism can collect $2 billion from Iran's central bank and the continuing reluctance of non-American banks to do business with Iran for fear it will lead to U.S. penalties.

The report said that Major Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, was able to travel freely to Iraq despite a travel ban against him. Neither Iraq nor Iran had provided clarification to the secretary general. Suleimani is one of a number of Iranian officials who are under a UN travel ban for human rights or terrorism activities.

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