Iran unveils new air defence system as it warns Europe to normalise ties

Sara Elizabeth Williams
The Khordad 15, a new surface-to-air missile battery shown at an undisclosed location in Iran - AP

An increasingly isolated Iran unveiled a new “domestically produced” air defence system on Sunday, hours after urging European countries to uphold commitments made under the nuclear deal, or face the consequences.

The new system, the Khordad 15, can trace six targets at the same time – including fighter jets, bombers and drones – and destroy them with missiles.

"Iran will increase its military capabilities to protect its national security and interests, and it will not ask permission from anyone on this matter," said Defence Minister Amir Hatami at the unveiling.  

With the 2015 deal unravelling quickly and relations with the US increasingly frosty, Iran is scrambling to showcase its strength even as it lurches towards potential financial ruin.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was speaking in advance of a visit from his German counterpart Heiko Maas. Mr Zarif said Europeans have "a duty" to ensure that Iran's economic relations return to normal.

He criticised European and Western policies as having “only caused damage in the region” and warned that "Europeans are not in a position to criticise Iran for issues outside the JCPOA," using the acronym for the nuclear deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has given Europe and China a 60-day deadline to challenge the US Credit: Official President website/Handout via REUTERS

"Now some countries like Germany have stopped selling arms to Saudi Arabia for bombarding the people of Yemen, some other countries haven't done so," he added. "In general, the West has allowed the autocratic regimes in our region to commit crimes."

The tough talk follows a move by Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, to walk back from various commitments in the deal last month.

In early May, he gave Europe and China a 60-day timeline to challenge the US position or risk Iran resuming enriching uranium to a higher degree than that permitted by the accord.

Iran on Friday rejected a suggestion by France to re-open nuclear talks, citing an increased risk of total collapse should the existing agreement be broadened.

The purpose of Mr Maas’s visit to Iran is to explore different means of preserving the fraying nuclear non-proliferation pact. 

Such a diplomatic coup would offer Iran an economic lifeline and give the deal’s western signatories a mechanism for ensuring Iran’s ballistic mission development is kept under control and potentially curb its regional military adventures.

Iran has long insisted its nuclear activities are peaceful, even as it refuses to discuss its missile programme.