11:40 GMT14 May 2021
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    A senior Revolutionary Guards commander has reaffirmed that Iran's ballistic missile program will continue and that the country has missiles ready to be fired.

    Comments by Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh followed a series of ballistic missile tests conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The tests received international criticism, including a demand by US Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton to impose new anti-Iran sanctions.

    Many believe the tests were meant as a challenge to last year's agreement between Iran and world powers, under which Tehran agreed to end its nuclear weapons program in exchange for lifting sanctions.

    "Iran's missile program will not stop under any circumstances," Hajizadeh said, cited by Iranian state television. "The IRGC has never accepted the UN Security Council resolutions on Iran's missile work. We are always ready to defend the country against any aggressor."

    Hajizadeh affirmed that Iran had no intention of starting a war and that the country's missile program is aimed solely for legitimate defense.

    Iran's Foreign Ministry earlier said that missile tests do not violate the international nuclear deal or UN Security Council resolutions.

    Meanwhile, Israel claimed that the missiles tested could carry nuclear warheads but acknowledged that the nuclear deal bars Iran from firing missiles with such capacity.

    According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, IRGC maintains the largest arsenal of short and medium-range ballistic missiles in the Middle East.

    Hajizadeh said that there are hundreds of underground missile bases around Iran, which "cannot be destroyed even if targeted by atomic bombs."

    The United States announced on Wednesday it was reviewing reports of Iranian ballistic missile tests and that the administration would determine an appropriate response.


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    ballistic missile launches, missile, UN, US, Iran
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