TOYAKO, Japan, (Reuters) – The United States said on Wednesday Iran should immediately halt development of ballistic missiles and stop conducting tests if it wanted to gain the trust of the world.
The comments came after Tehran test-fired nine long- and medium-range missiles, including one it previously said could reach Israel and U.S. bases in the region.
Iran should “refrain from further missile tests if they truly seek to gain the trust of the world”, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in Japan where U.S. President George W. Bush was attending the Group of Eight summit. “The Iranians should stop the development of ballistic missiles, which could be used as a delivery vehicle for a potential nuclear weapon, immediately,” he said.
The missile tests occurred at a time of heightened tension between Iran and Israel over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs. Iran says its nuclear program is for power generation.
News of Iran’s missile test came as the G8 expressed “serious concern” over Iran’s failure to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for Tehran to suspend all enrichment-related activities.
Last month, six major world powers offered a package of economic incentives to Iran if it halted nuclear activities.
Tehran’s formal response to that offer has not been made public. “We call on Iran to respond to the updated incentives package in a constructive manner,” the G8 statement said. “We also urge Iran to act in a more responsible and constructive manner in the region, particularly in the context of the Middle East peace process and the stability of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The White House said Iran’s development of ballistic missiles was in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions but that the United States was committed to pursuing a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“President Bush and our partners in the United Nations Security Council, as well as Germany, are committed to a diplomatic path, and have offered Iran a generous package of incentives if they will suspend their uranium enrichment activities,” Johndroe said.