The revelation comes after President Hassan Rouhani ordered the expansion of his country’s ballistic missiles in response to potential USA sanctions.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it was considering sanctions against a number of Iranian and worldwide individuals and agencies for their alleged involvement in developing Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Iran says the Security Council resolution, approved in July, would only ban missiles specifically created to carry a nuclear warhead, not those capable of it, so it would not affect its military program as Tehran does not pursues nuclear weapons. Not only are there significant United States sanctions, in addition to global ones, to deal with, but Republican candidates in this year’s presidential election are pledging to scrap the nuclear agreement if they win office.
Should individuals and companies be added to “the previously unjustified sanctions list, it is necessary that the production of various missiles required by the armed forces move forward with increased speed and seriousness”, said his letter to Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan.
The Defence Ministry was obliged to expand the missile capabilities of Iran, in case the United States insists on its “false and interfering measures”, Rouhani said.
But U.S. officials offered no definitive timeline for when the sanctions would be imposed, the newspaper said.
“Iran’s missile capabilities have never been the subject of negotiations with the Americans and will never be”, he added.
“We will vigorously press ahead with the development of missile capabilities within the framework of the country’s defense policies”, brigadier general Hossein Dehqan was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
Iran tested a conventional missile in October, prompting several politicians in the USA to call for fresh sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal said the White House had delayed plans to slap new sanctions on Iran but the measures remained on the table. A United Nations Security Council resolution approved in 2010 and would be in invalid when the Iran nuclear deal goes into effect, bans Iran from conducting ballistic tests.
According to Pillar, Iran’s development of missiles is linked to the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, in which cities on both sides were routinely hit with ballistic missiles. He said so far the administration has not taken such action despite acknowledging Iran’s violation of the UNSC resolution.
The report also states, “If the new sanctions are imposed, they will be a blatant violation of the nuclear deal signed between Tehran and the world powers in July that would eventually see Washington drop sanctions targeting Iran”.