New U.S. sanc­tions hit at Iran af­ter rocket launched into space

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - JOSH LE­D­ER­MAN In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Amir Vah­dat of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

WASH­ING­TON — The United States pun­ished Iran on Fri­day for its launch into space this week of a satel­lite-car­ry­ing rocket, hit­ting six Ira­nian en­ti­ties with sanc­tions tar­get­ing the coun­try’s bal­lis­tic-mis­sile pro­gram.

Three Euro­pean na­tions that helped bro­ker the Iran nu­clear deal in 2015 joined the U.S. in con­demn­ing the launch and said it was too close for com­fort to the type of in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles used to de­liver a nu­clear pay­load.

At the United Na­tions, U.S. Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley said Iran was “break­ing its obli­ga­tion” and added, “We can’t trust them.”

“Un­der this ad­min­is­tra­tion, the United States will not let Iran off the hook for be­hav­ior that threat­ens our in­ter­ests and our al­lies,” Ha­ley said.

The U.S. sanc­tions hit six Ira­nian sub­sidiaries of the Shahid Hem­mat In­dus­trial Group, de­scribed by the Trea­sury Depart­ment as “cen­tral” to Iran’s bal­lis­tic- mis­sile pro­gram. Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steve Mnuchin cast the sanc­tions as part of an on­go­ing U.S. ef­fort to ag­gres­sively op­pose Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing what he called a “provoca­tive space launch” car­ried out Thurs­day by the Is­lamic Repub­lic.

“These sanc­tions tar­get key en­ti­ties in­volved in Iran’s bal­lis­tic-mis­sile pro­gram, and un­der­score the United States’ deep con­cerns with Iran’s con­tin­ued de­vel­op­ment and test­ing of bal­lis­tic mis­siles and other provoca­tive be­hav­ior,” Mnuchin said.

In an­other al­le­ga­tion against the U.S. ad­ver­sary, Mnuchin said mis­sile at­tacks on U.S. part­ner Saudi Ara­bia over the week­end by Houthi rebels in Ye­men had likely come with the sup­port of Iran. The U. S. has long ac­cused Tehran of ship­ping weapons to the Houthis, a Shi­ite group that con­trols part of Ye­men and is be­ing fought by a Saudi-led coali­tion.

The sanc­tions come a day af­ter Iran launched its most ad­vanced satel­lite-car­ry­ing rocket into space. The Si­morgh rocket is ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing a satel­lite weigh­ing 550 pounds, Iran state tele­vi­sion said.

The U.S. Na­tional Air and Space In­tel­li­gence Cen­ter said in a re­port re­leased last month that the Si­morgh could act as a test bed for de­vel­op­ing the tech­nolo­gies needed to pro­duce an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile.

In a joint state­ment, the U.S., Bri­tain, Ger­many and France called the launch “in­con­sis­tent” with the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion en­shrin­ing the nu­clear deal, adding that such ac­tiv­i­ties desta­bi­lize the re­gion. The group­ing rep­re­sented all of the Western na­tions that are part of the nu­clear deal, which also in­cludes Rus­sia, China and the Euro­pean Union.

“We con­demn this ac­tion,” the coun­tries said. “We call on Iran not to con­duct any fur­ther bal­lis­tic mis­sile launches and re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties.”

The na­tions stopped short of say­ing the launch had “vi­o­lated” the U.N. res­o­lu­tion, say­ing only that it was “in­con­sis­tent” with the text. That’s be­cause the res­o­lu­tion calls upon, but doesn’t oblige, Iran to re­frain from bal­lis­tic-mis­sile de­vel­op­ment.

Yet Iran’s for­eign min­is­ter, Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif said Fri­day that his coun­try is com­ply­ing with the nu­clear deal that Iran struck with the U.S. and other world pow­ers in 2015. Zarif con­trasted that with the U.S., which he sug­gested was not com­ply­ing with “the let­ter and spirit” of the deal.

“Rhetoric and ac­tions from the U.S. show bad faith,” Zarif said.

He also re­jected the no­tion that Iran was work­ing to de­velop mis­siles that could carry a nu­clear war­head.

The penal­ties re­flect an at­tempt by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to show it’s stay­ing tough on Iran even though Trump has yet to scrap the 2015 nu­clear deal, de­spite threat­en­ing to do so as a can­di­date and ar­gu­ing it’s a bad deal.

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