Netanyahu Urges World Powers to Take Punitive Action Against Iran Over Missile Tests

Prime minister instructs Foreign Ministry to urge U.S., Russia, China, France, U.K. and Germany to address 'test' to nuclear deal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 6, 2016.
AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Foreign Ministry to reach out Saturday to world powers involved in negotiating a nuclear accord with Iran and ask them to take immediate punitive actions against Iran for what his office called "ongoing and recurring violations" by its missiles program.

"This is an important step in and of itself, but also as a test for world powers to enforce the nuclear agreement," Netanyahu's office said, in refrence to the P5+1 group, comprised of  the U.S., Russia, China, France, U.K. and Germany.

This week Iran's Revolutionary Guard launched several medium-range and short-range ballistic missiles as part of a military exercise. The tests, which state television said ended on Wednesday night, were seen as a challenge to a United Nations resolution and last year's nuclear accord with world powers under which Tehran agreed to curb its atomic program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, in this handout photo released by Farsnews on March 9, 2016.
Reuters

Tehran says its missile program is solely for defensive use with conventional, non-nuclear warheads. 

Iran's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the tests were not in violation of the nuclear agreement, which led to lifting of sanctions in January. 

The United States imposed sanctions against businesses and individuals in January over another missile test in October 2015. But Iranian officials have repeatedly expressed Tehran's determination to develop what it called Iran's defense capabilities. 

The United States said on Wednesday it was aware of and reviewing reports of an additional Iranian ballistic missile test and that the administration would determine an appropriate response. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about the missile tests, a State Department spokesman said. 

But Iran's Students News Agency ISNA said on Thursday that Zarif and Kerry had not discussed the issue. 

State TV in October aired footage of long tunnels with ready-to-fire missiles on the back of trucks, saying the facility was one of hundreds of underground missile bases around the country.