Iran denounces new US sanctions on ballistic missile programme as 'illegitimate'

"Iran's missile programme has never been designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons," Hossein Jaber Ansari said.
"Iran's missile programme has never been designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons," Hossein Jaber Ansari said.PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (AFP/REUTERS) - Iran on Monday (Jan 18) denounced "illegitimate" new sanctions by the United States on its ballistic missile programme, days after Teheran's historic nuclear deal with world powers was confirmed.

"Iran's missile programme has never been designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said, according to the ISNA news agency.

He added that Teheran saw fresh economic sanctions as "illegitimate", because of Washington's arms sales in the Middle East.

"The US sanctions against Iran's ballistic missile programme... have no legal or moral legitimacy," Mr Ansari said in the televised news conference.

"America sells tens of billions of dollars of weaponry each year to countries in the region. These weapons are used in war crimes against Palestinian, Lebanese and most recently Yemeni citizens," he added.

The US Treasury Department said in a statement that it had added five Iranian nationals and a network of companies based in the United Arab Emirates and China to an American blacklist.

It said the network had "obfuscated the end user of sensitive goods for missile proliferation by using front companies in third countries to deceive foreign suppliers" and that the five individuals had "worked to procure ballistic missile components for Iran".

Mr Adam J. Szubin, acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that "Iran's ballistic missile programme poses a significant threat to regional and global security, and it will continue to be subject to international sanctions".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, speaking at a news conference in Teheran some 90 minutes before the new US measures were announced, was asked what would happen if the United States imposed new sanctions or violated terms of the nuclear agreement.

"Any action will be met by a reaction," he said.

"If the Americans impose any measure they will receive an appropriate response."