Iran pushes on with ballistic missile tests

  • 29/03/2016
A handout picture made available by the Iranian defence ministry (AAP/Supplied)
A handout picture made available by the Iranian defence ministry (AAP/Supplied)

Iran plans to pursue its development of ballistic missiles despite the US blacklisting of more Iranian companies linked to the program, says a senior Revolutionary Guards commander.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired several ballistic missiles this month, drawing condemnation from Western leaders who believe the tests violate a United Nations resolution.

"Even if they build a wall around Iran, our missile program will not stop," Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC's aerospace arm, was quoted by a local news agency on Monday.

"They are trying to frighten our officials with sanctions and invasion."

The US Treasury Department has blacklisted two Iranian companies, cutting them off from international finance over their connection to the program.

Washington had imposed similar sanctions on 11 businesses and individuals in January over a missile test carried out by the IRGC in October 2015.

US officials said Iran's missile test would violate UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran not to conduct "any activity" related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

However, Washington said that a fresh missile test would not violate a July 2015 accord under which Iran has restricted its disputed nuclear program, in exchange for relief from sanctions in return.

That agreement between Iran and six world powers was endorsed in Resolution 2231.

The Revolutionary Guards maintains dozens of short and medium-range ballistic missiles, the largest stock in the Middle East.

It says the missiles are solely for defensive use with conventional, non-nuclear warheads.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that boosting Iran's defence capabilities is a "strategic policy" though Iran should take care not to provoke its enemies.

Iran has denied accusations that it is acting "provocatively" with the missile tests, citing a long history of US interventions in the Middle East -- including a US-engineered coup in Tehran in 1953 -- and a right to self-defence.