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Netanyahu vows to push for Iran sanctions after Tehran tests missile

US officials say Iran conducted a ballistic missile test over the weekend. The news has infuriated Israel, which is vowing to push for renewed sanctions against Tehran.

Iran test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile that exploded after traveling more than 600 miles (1,000 km), US officials said on Monday.

The rocket was launched Sunday near Semnan, about 140 miles east of Tehran.

The White House said it was aware that Iran had carried out the test, spokesman Sean Spicer said during a press briefing.

"We're looking into that," he said. "We're aware that Iran fired that missile. We're looking into the exact nature of it, and I'll try to have more for you later."

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It was not immediately clear whether the missile launch violated a United Nations Security Council resolution.

According to UN Security Council resolution 1929: "Iran is prohibited from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons and States are required to take all necessary measure to prevent the transfer of related technology or technical assistance."

News of the test came shortly before French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault arrived in the Iranian capital for a two-day visit.

Ayrault insisted that France would defend the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, saying it was in the "common interest" that the accord was obeyed. Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for lifted sanctions.

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Ayrault said that while Iran had "largely" honored the deal's terms, it had tested the spirit of the accord over the past year by carrying out several ballistic missile tests.

Israel's government has taken a different view. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to renew his push to reimpose sanctions against Iran when he meets with US President Donald Trump in Washington in February.

"Iran again launched a ballistic missile. This is a flagrant violation of a Security Council Resolution," Netanyahu said on Twitter.

During his US election campaign, Trump criticized the 2015 agreement, calling it a "disaster" and "the worst deal ever negotiated." But he has also said it would be hard to overturn an agreement enshrined in a UN resolution.

Tehran insists the missiles it has test-fired over the past year are not specifically designed to carry nuclear warheads, and so they are not violating the UN-backed deal.

Iranian lawmakers recently approved plans to increase military spending, including expansion of its long-range missile program.

bik/jr (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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