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Iran decries new US sanctions on ballistic missile program

Iran has attacked a new set of US sanctions on its ballistic missile program, saying they breach a 2015 deal with the UN Security Council. Trump extended sanctions relief this week, going back on a campaign pledge.

Iran's right to strengthen its military capabilities is not a violation of the country's nuclear agreement with world powers, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

"Iran condemns the US administration's ill will in its effort to reduce the positive results of the country's implementation of JCPOA (nuclear deal) commitments by adding individuals to the list of unilateral and illegal extraterritorial sanctions," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on his Telegram messaging channel.

Washington's new/old approach

The US administration is re-evaluating its relationship with Iran, including whether to remain a party to the nuclear deal.

US President Donald Trump's administration chose to stick with the existing nuclear deal with Iran on Wednesday,renewing a waiver of nuclear-related sanctions. The move came despite Trump's strong criticism of the agreement during the 2016 election campaign.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in April that Iran was complying with its side of the bargain, but he also described the country as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after delivering a statement on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington on April 19.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after delivering a statement on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington on April 19.

New sanctions

The US Treasury Department extended sanctions on Iran on Wednesday over concerns about its ballistic missile program. The new sanctions designate seven entities, including two top Iranian defense officials and a China-based network that supplies material to Iran's missile program. 

Iran is prohibited from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear weapon, under UN Security Council resolution 2231.

The US believes the Chinese business tied to Tehran's ballistic missile program is in breach of international law because, the US said, it could carry nuclear warheads in the future.

A decisive election in Tehran

The decision comes before a Friday presidential election in Iran, in which moderate President Hassan Rouhani is fighting for a second term against hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who has called for a tougher stance against the West.

Ghasemi has said Iran would retaliate by adding nine US individuals and companies to its own sanctions list, accusing them of "clear violations of human rights" in relation to their support for Israel or "terrorist groups" in the Middle East.

Rouhani, who is seen as the frontrunner in unofficial polls, has vowed to work towards the removal of remaining sanctions.

Watch video 02:40

Iran: Hardliner Raisi challenges Rouhani

jbh/sms (dpa, AFP)

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