Iran is de­fi­ant over its mis­siles

Con­demn­ing U.S. sanc­tions, Tehran says its pro­gram will go on.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Ramin Mostaghim Mostaghim is a spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent.

TEHRAN — Iran de­fied Wash­ing­ton and con­demned new U.S. sanc­tions over its de­vel­op­ment of mis­siles ca­pa­ble of be­ing armed with nu­clear war­heads.

“We will con­tinue with full power our mis­sile pro­gram,” For­eign Min­istry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran Broad­cast­ing on Sat­ur­day, dis­miss­ing new sanc­tions passed by Congress last week as “hos­tile, rep­re­hen­si­ble and un­ac­cept­able.”

“It’s ul­ti­mately an ef­fort to weaken the nu­clear deal,” Ghasemi said. “The mil­i­tary and mis­sile fields ... are our do­mes­tic poli­cies and oth­ers have no right to in­ter­vene or com­ment on them.”

Iran had agreed to limit its nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties un­der the 2015 agree­ment with the U.S. and other world pow­ers in ex­change for sanc­tions re­lief.

Ghasemi ar­gued Sat­ur­day that the U.S. had vi­o­lated that agree­ment by link­ing the mis­sile pro­gram to the nu­clear deal and re­strict­ing Ira­nian bank­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the U.S. He ar­gued that Iran’s lat­est mis­sile tests don’t break the agree­ment be­cause the weapons are de­fen­sive.

“The new wave of pres­sure on mis­sile projects in Iran will push the Is­lamic theoc­racy into a cor­ner,” pre­dicted an­a­lyst Ho­j­jat Kalashi in Tehran, not­ing that the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani, who was re­elected in May, is cop­ing with an eco­nomic down­turn and may step back from the com­pro­mise nu­clear deal.

The new Iran sanc­tions bill, which also tar­gets Rus­sia and North Korea, was passed by the House and Se­nate. It would pe­nal­ize those in­volved in Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram as well as those who do busi­ness with them, im­pose an arms em­bargo on Iran and la­bel its Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard a ter­ror­ist group.

White House Press Sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders has said Pres­i­dent Trump will sign the bill.

On Fri­day, the U.S. was joined by Bri­tain, France and Ger­many in con­demn­ing Iran’s re­cent launch of a satel­lite-car­ry­ing rocket and warned that it vi­o­lated a United Na­tions res­o­lu­tion im­ple­ment­ing the 2015 nu­clear deal.

In a joint state­ment, they urged Iran to stop de­vel­op­ing mis­siles and rock­ets ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing nu­clear war­heads that have “a desta­bi­liz­ing im­pact on the re­gion.”

In re­sponse to a rocket launch Thurs­day, the U.S. Trea­sury Depart­ment im­posed sanc­tions on sub­sidiaries of an Ira­nian com­pany in­volved in Tehran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram.

But Nader Karimi Juni, an an­a­lyst close to Rouhani’s gov­ern­ment, said Ira­nian lead­ers don’t be­lieve the U.N. and Euro­pean pow­ers will ul­ti­mately back the U.S., and so Iran “will not com­pro­mise on mis­sile projects and will re­main de­fi­ant.”

Anadolu Agency Getty Im­ages

IRAN’S For­eign Min­istry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi called the sanc­tions “rep­re­hen­si­ble.”

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