The United States imposed sanctions on Iran's civilian space agency and two research organizations on Tuesday, saying they were being used to advance Tehran's ballistic missile program.The U.S. Treasury sanctions targeted the Iran Space Agency, Iran Space Research Center and the Astronautics Research Institute, according to a statement on its website.
"The United States will not allow Iran to use its space launch program as cover to advance its ballistic missile programs," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.He said Iran's Aug. 29 attempt to test a space launch vehicle underscored "the urgency of the threat."The United States has warned Iran against rocket launches, fearing the technology used to put satellites in orbit could help it develop the ballistic missile capability needed to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran denies its activity is a cover for such development.On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump posted on Twitter a photo of what appeared to be the site of a failed Iranian satellite launch."These designations should serve as a warning to the international scientific community that collaborating with Iran’s space program could contribute to Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon delivery system," Pompeo said.Trump withdrew from a 2015 multi-national nuclear deal with Iran, saying it did not go far enough. Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran will not agree to bilateral negotiations with the United States until all sanctions are lifted. He also threatened to further cut commitments to the crumbling nuclear deal called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).“We’ve said it before time and again, and we say it again: we have no intention to hold bilateral talks with the United States,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by Iran’s Mehr News Agency during a parliament session in Tehran. “We never did and never will. This has been the case in the past year and a half, and even in previous years. There have been calls for talks, but we never responded to them. When we talk about negotiations, we only mean it under the situation where all sanctions have been lifted – that is, the situation we previously had under the JCPOA. Our stance is clear.”He said were Washington to lift all sanctions it imposed on Tehran after it unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA, then there could be multilateral talks with the remaining signatories, the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia.