France Says Iran Ballistic Test Worrying in Light of Nuclear Escalation

25 May 2023, Iran, ---: A general view of the testing of the fourth-generation Khorramshahr ballistic missile, at an undisclosed location. (Iranian Defense Ministry/dpa)
25 May 2023, Iran, ---: A general view of the testing of the fourth-generation Khorramshahr ballistic missile, at an undisclosed location. (Iranian Defense Ministry/dpa)
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France Says Iran Ballistic Test Worrying in Light of Nuclear Escalation

25 May 2023, Iran, ---: A general view of the testing of the fourth-generation Khorramshahr ballistic missile, at an undisclosed location. (Iranian Defense Ministry/dpa)
25 May 2023, Iran, ---: A general view of the testing of the fourth-generation Khorramshahr ballistic missile, at an undisclosed location. (Iranian Defense Ministry/dpa)

France on Thursday accused Iran of violating a UN Security Council resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal after it carried out a long-range ballistic missile test, which Paris said was worrying given "uninterrupted escalation" of Tehran's nuclear program.

 

Iran successfully test-launched a ballistic missile with a potential 2,000-km range on Thursday, state media said, the latest in ballistic missile tests and satellite launches.

 

"These activities are all the more worrying in the context of the continuing escalation of Iran's nuclear program", French foreign ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters at a daily briefing.

 

UN Security Council resolution 2231 calls on Iran not to conduct “any activity” related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, but the language is ambiguous, leaving it open to interpretation.

 

Western officials say that although the launches go against 2231, they are not a violation of the core nuclear agreement between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

 

Western powers are particularly concerned because UN Security Council restrictions on missiles and related technologies last until October 2023 after which Iran is free to pursue its ballistic missile activity.

 

Legendre's reference to the escalation of Iran's nuclear program comes just 10 days before the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors meets in Vienna.

 

"Iran's activities pose serious and increased non-proliferation risks without any credible civilian justification," she said.

 

Ahead of March's board meeting, the IAEA and Iran said they had agreed to make progress on various issues, including a long-stalled IAEA inquiry into uranium particles found at three undeclared sites in Iran.

 

They also agreed to re-install all extra monitoring equipment, such as surveillance cameras, at nuclear sites that was put in place under Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, but then removed last year as the deal unraveled following the US withdrawal in 2018.

 

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

 

It is unclear how much progress there has been and whether Western powers will decide to push for a resolution ordering Iran to cooperate more.

 

"We expect Iran to respect its international obligations ... and carry out concrete and tangible progress before the Board of Governors meeting," Legendre said.



Greece Denies New Report of Brutality to Migrants

Migrants arrive with a dinghy accompanied by a Frontex vessel at the village of Skala Sikaminias, on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean Sea from Türkiye, Feb. 28, 2020. (AP)
Migrants arrive with a dinghy accompanied by a Frontex vessel at the village of Skala Sikaminias, on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean Sea from Türkiye, Feb. 28, 2020. (AP)
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Greece Denies New Report of Brutality to Migrants

Migrants arrive with a dinghy accompanied by a Frontex vessel at the village of Skala Sikaminias, on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean Sea from Türkiye, Feb. 28, 2020. (AP)
Migrants arrive with a dinghy accompanied by a Frontex vessel at the village of Skala Sikaminias, on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean Sea from Türkiye, Feb. 28, 2020. (AP)

Greece on Monday denied a new report that accused its coast guard of brutally preventing migrants from reaching Greek shores, which also alleged that the practice had resulted in dozens of deaths.

A BBC report said it had been ascertained that 43 migrants drowned — including nine who were thrown into the water — in 15 incidents off Greece's eastern Aegean Sea islands in 2020-2023. It cited interviews with eyewitnesses, following reports from media, charities and the Turkish coast guard.

Greek government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis insisted that there was no evidence to support the allegations.

“Our understanding is that what is reported is not proved,” he told a regular press briefing when asked about the claims. “Every complaint is looked into, and in the end, the relevant findings are made public.”

Greece is a major gateway for migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia seeking a better life in the affluent European Union. Thousands slip into the country every year, mostly in small boats from neighboring Türkiye. Relations with Türkiye are often tense, and the two countries' coast guards have repeatedly traded accusations of mistreating migrants.

Migrant charities and human rights groups have repeatedly accused Greece's coast guard and police of illegally preventing arriving migrants from seeking asylum by surreptitiously returning them to Turkish waters. Greece has angrily denied that, arguing its border forces have saved hundreds of thousands of migrants from sinking boats.

The country's reputation took a further knock in June 2023, when a battered fishing vessel with an estimated 750 people on board sank off southwestern Greece. Only 104 people survived, despite the Greek coast guard having shadowed the vessel for hours, and survivors claimed the trawler sank after a botched attempt by the coast guard to tow it. Greek authorities again denied these allegations.

The new BBC report included a claim by a Cameroonian man that he and two other migrants were picked up by masked men, including policemen, just after landing on the island of Samos.

The man claimed all three were put in a coast guard boat and thrown into the sea, and that the other two men drowned as a result.

The report also quoted a Syrian man who said he was part of a group picked up at sea by the Greek coast guard off Rhodes. He said the survivors were put in life rafts and left adrift in Turkish waters, where several died after one life raft sank before the Turkish coast guard came to pick them up.

Marinakis said “it is wrong to target” the Greek coast guard. “In any case, we monitor every report and investigation, but I repeat: What is mentioned (in the BBC report) is in no case backed up by evidence,” he said.