Anti-Israeli inscription on tested rockets raises questions on Iran

An anti-Israeli inscription was written on two rockets used in military tests in central Iran, Fars News Agency reported Wednesday, just days after the country's president said that the nation is looking for reconciliation with the outside world.

Two intermediate-range rockets carried the inscription in Hebrew "Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth" - a 2005 comment made by then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The phrase hasn't been officially used since reformist Hassan Rowhani became president in 2013.

The report comes just three days after Rowhani said at a press conference in Tehran that Iran is tired of tension with the rest of the world and voters in the country are showing a resumed interest in reconciliation.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to relay his concerns about the ballistic missile reports, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

If the launches are confirmed, Kirby said there was "no question" that they violated UN Security Council resolutions, and the US would take the matter up with the United Nations and could also act unilaterally.

Kirby said the US could not independently confirm "graffiti on them [missiles] about Israel."

Last month's elections in Iran saw Rowhani's reformers score big wins, notably in the strategically important Tehran district, where they took all 30 parliamentary seats and 15 of the 16 seats up for grabs in the Assembly of Experts.

The election gains come on the back of sanctions that were lifted after Iran reached a landmark nuclear deal with world powers last year that saw it agree to shut down nuclear weapons programmes in exchange for an end to international sanctions.

US Vice President Joe Biden, on a visit to Israel, did not address the missile launch during a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but said that if Iran breaks the terms of the nuclear deal "we will act."

"A nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and the United States. If in fact they break the deal, we will act," Biden said.

Last update: Thu, 10/03/2016 - 11:01
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