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Iran denounces US 'propaganda' over missile program

The United States has put new economic sanctions in place against Iran over the country's ballistic missile program. Tehran slammed the "illegitimate" move just a day after old economic sanctions were rolled back.

Tehran decried new US sanctions on Monday, just days after the confirmation of its

historical nuclear deal

with world powers. A foreign ministry spokesman denounced the American move as "illegitimate" and "propaganda."

The US had launched the sanctions on Sunday amid worries that Iran's ballistic missile program would be used to carry atomic warheads. The decision came just a day after Washington had lifted a series of painful economic penalties as part of an international deal struck last summer in which Iran promised to roll back its nuclear program.

"Iran's missile program has never been designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons," said foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari (pictured above), according to state news agency INSA.

"As previously announced, the Islamic Republic of Iran... responds with determination to such propaganda by accelerating its legal ballistic missile program and boosting defense capabilities," he added, saying that as a defensive precaution, the missiles posed no threat to other nations.

Five Iranian individuals and a number of companies based in China and the United Arab Emirates were added to the US blacklist as part of the new sanctions, according to the US Treasury.

Diplomatic rollercoaster

The incident is a huge turnaround from just a few days earlier, when US-Iran relations seemed to be at a high point. Not only did the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declare last summer's nuclear deal legitimate, unlocking some $100 billion in sanctions relief;

Iran released four Americans

who have been imprisoned in the country.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former US marine Amir Hekmati and pastor Saeed Abedini were sent immediately to Germany en route to the US, while Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari chose to remain in Iran. The four, along with US student Matthew Trevithick, who was released separately, were free in exchange for pardons or dropped charges for seven Iranians detained for sanctions violations.

es/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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