Western nations express displeasure at Iran’s space launch; US levies sanctions — Iran likely close to North Korean-type ICBM capability

By Josh LEDERMAN

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Iran space launch, July 27, 2017. Iranian Defense Ministry

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States punished Iran on Friday for launching a satellite-carrying rocket into space by hitting six Iranian entities with sanctions targeting the country’s ballistic missiles program.

Three European nations that helped broker the landmark 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. “We will continue to impose consequences until Iran stops its provocations and complies fully with Security Council resolutions.”

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 missiles program. Treasury Secretary Steven 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 by the Islamic Republic on Thursday.

In another allegation against the U.S. adversary, Mnuchin said that 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 came a day after Iran successfully launched its most advanced satellite-carrying rocket into space, in what was likely a major advancement for the country’s space program. The “Simorgh” rocket is capable of carrying a satellite weighing 550 pounds (250 kilograms), 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, or ICBM.

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.”

Yet beyond the U.S. sanctions, it was unclear what, if anything, the group could do to increase pressure quickly on Tehran. Notably, 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 pushed back on any suggestion his country had done anything wrong by launching the satellite into space. He said Friday that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal and drew a contrast with the U.S., accusing Washington of not complying with “the letter and spirit” of the deal.

Image result for Mohammad Javad Zarif, photos

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

“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.

“Iran is not and will not be developing nuclear weapons; so by definition cannot develop anything designed to be capable of delivering them,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.

Britain, Germany and France also said they were raising their concerns directly to the Islamic Republic. Despite brokering the nuclear deal, the U.S. doesn’t maintain regular diplomatic relations with Iran.

The U.S. 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 agreement, despite threatening to do so as a candidate and labelling it a bad deal.

Under Trump, like under President Barack Obama, the U.S. has continued to sanction Iran for nonnuclear behavior such as ballistic missile activity that isn’t explicitly covered under the nuclear deal. Trump’s administration has also been pushing for inspections of sensitive Iranian military sites where U.S intelligence agencies believe Iran may be conducting illicit activity prohibited by the nuclear pact.

The six entities being sanctioned contribute to Iran’s liquid propellant ballistic missiles, the Treasury Department said, including development and manufacturing of engines, launchers, guide-and-control systems and ground support as well as the liquid propellant itself. The sanctions freeze any assets the entities may have in the U.S. and prohibit Americans from doing business with them.

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Associated Press writers Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

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Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

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Image result for john Bolton

John Bolton

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said on July 28, 2017, on the Fox News broadcast with Neil Cavuto that Iran and North Korea had been working together on ICBMs and were likely to both possess similar capabilities. He also said it was likely that they had also been cooperating on nuclear weapon technology.

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Al Jazeera

The US has hit Iran with new sanctions in response to its launch of a satellite-carrying rocket into space.

The ballistic missiles sanctions, announced on Friday, target six Iranian subsidiaries of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, which the US treasury department says is “central” to Iran’s ballistic missiles programme.

On Thursday, Iran successfully tested a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit.

The same day, Iranian state television showed footage of the firing of the rocket, mounted on a launchpad, carrying pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

READ MORE: ‘It is in Trump’s interest to keep the Iran deal alive’

The US said the rocket launch violated the UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal and called upon Iran to not undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology.

The resolution stops short of explicitly barring such activity.

In a joint statement on Friday, Britian, France and Germany joined the US in condemning the satellite-launch rocket test, saying it was in violation of the resolution.

“Iran’s programme to develop ballistic missiles continues to be inconsistent with UNSCR 2231 and has a destabilising impact in the region,” the statement said. “We call on Iran not to conduct any further ballistic missile launches and related activities.”

The six entities being sanctioned contribute to Iran’s liquid propellant ballistic missiles, the US treasury department said, including development and manufacturing of engines, launchers, guide-and-control systems and ground support as well as the liquid propellant itself.

The sanctions freeze any assets the entities may have in the US and prohibit Americans from doing business with them.

‘US shows bad faith’

Steven Mnuchin, US treasury secretary, said the sanctions illustrate deep US concerns about Iran’s missile testing and other actions.

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

The nuclear deal does not cover Iran’s ballistic missile programme.

Iran has denied it has missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.

OPINION: Trump and Iran – Scenarios of escalation

On Friday, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said his country is complying with the nuclear deal and suggested that the US is not complying with the “letter and spirit” of the deal.

“Rhetoric and actions from the US show bad faith,” he said.

“Iran is not and will not be developing nuclear weapons; so by definition cannot develop anything designed to be capable of delivering them.”

The fresh sanctions come as Donald Trump’s administration continues debating its Iran policy and whether to scrap the 2015 nuclear deal.

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, the US president promised to “rip up” the “worst deal ever made”.

Last week, the US hit Iran with fresh sanctions, designating 18 individuals and entities for supporting what it said were “illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity”.

Iran’s parliament retaliated by voting for extra funding for the missile programme and its foreign ministry said it would impose its own sanctions against US citizens.

Last week’s sanctions came just a day after the US administration declared that Iran was complying with the landmark nuclear deal signed two years ago.

US officials said the “conditions had been met”, but Iran is “unquestionably in default of the spirit” of the agreement.

Iran countered the US accusation, saying that it had violated the deal.

Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said the US was “trying to sabotage the situation, to threaten or scare off foreign companies to invest in Iran”.

Source: News agencies

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/hits-iran-fresh-sanctions-space-launch-170728180618940.html

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One Response to “Western nations express displeasure at Iran’s space launch; US levies sanctions — Iran likely close to North Korean-type ICBM capability”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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