DUBAI • Iran said new American curbs on its ballistic missile programme were illegitimate, vowing to continue developing its conventional military deterrent.
The United States imposed sanctions on 11 companies and individuals on Sunday for supplying Iran's ballistic missile programme in a move delayed by over two weeks so as not to endanger this weekend's release of US prisoners.
The new measures also came after the lifting of far more comprehensive nuclear sanctions.
"The Islamic Republic will respond to these aggravating and propagandistic measures by pursuing its legal missile programme stronger than before and developing its defensive capabilities," an Iranian foreign ministry statement said yesterday.
Iran tested a new medium-range ballistic missile on Nov 21 in a breach of two United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions, two US officials said yesterday. The test was the second since last October.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said Washington's sales of weapons to allies in the Middle East, worth tens of billions of dollars each year, was used to commit "war crimes against Palestinian, Lebanese and most recently, Yemeni citizens".
"The US sanctions against Iran's ballistic missile programme... have no legal or moral legitimacy.
"Iran's missile programme has never been designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons," Mr Ansari was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
Hardline newspapers Kayhan and Vatan-e-Emrooz splashed the news on their front pages, crowding out a triumphal speech by President Hassan Rouhani, who on Sunday hailed the lifting of the nuclear sanctions.
"Sanctions are back!" ran the Kayhan headline. The article pointed out that Teheran's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had said new sanctions under any pretext would constitute a breach of the nuclear deal.
The UN atomic watchdog had confirmed on Saturday that Iran had complied with the measures imposed by a deal with global powers reached in Austria in July last year. World leaders hailed the deal, and the subsequent lifting of European and US sanctions, as a milestone in international diplomacy.
A day after the US announced new sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile tests, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the European Union will discuss this week if it needs to impose such measures.
"We have to compare the American system and European system and see if there are new sanctions to take or not, and this exercise will be implemented this week," Mr Fabius told reporters yesterday during a visit to Abu Dhabi.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE