Rowhani says Iran has right to develop missiles

A military truck carrying a missile and a picture of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen during a parade marking the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) in Tehran, in this September 22, 2015 file photo. (Reuters)

President Hassan Rowhani ordered his defence minister on Thursday to expand Iran’s missile programme, in response to a U.S. threat to impose sanctions over a ballistic missile test Iran carried out in October.

“As the U.S. government is clearly still pursuing its hostile policies and illegal meddling ... the armed forces need to quickly and significantly increase their missile capability,” Rowhani wrote in a letter to Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan, published on the state news agency IRNA.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is preparing new sanctions against international companies and individuals over Iran’s ballistic missile program, sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the potential sanctions would target about 12 companies and individuals for their suspected role in developing Iran’s ballistic-missile program.

U.S. officials have said the Treasury Department retains a right under July’s landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers, including Washington, to blacklist Iranian entities suspected of involvement in missile development, the Journal said.

Iranian officials have said the country’s supreme leader would view such penalties as violating the nuclear accord.

“We’ve been looking for some time‎ at options for additional actions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program based on our continued concerns about its activities, including the October 10th launch,” an Obama administration official said.

“We are considering various aspects related to additional designations, as well as evolving diplomatic work that is consistent with our national security interests,” the official said, on condition of anonymity.

A team of U.N. sanctions monitors said in a confidential report seen by Reuters on Dec. 15 that a medium-range Emad rocket that Iran tested on Oct. 10 was a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, making it a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution.

Diplomats have said it was possible for the sanctions committee to blacklist additional Iranian individuals or entities over the missile launch. But they said Russia and China, which have opposed the sanctions on Iran’s missile program, might block any such actions.

Tehran has disputed the Western assessment that the Emad missile was capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47
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