First test of nuclear deal in US-Iran showdown over ballistic missiles

Iran says a new round of US sanctions would be illegal.

Iran tests new precision-guided ballistic missile‏ [File] (photo credit: IRANIAN MEDIA)
Iran tests new precision-guided ballistic missile‏ [File]
(photo credit: IRANIAN MEDIA)
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is considering fresh punishments for Iran over its ballistic missile activity, drawing ire from Tehran and potentially complicating implementation of the nuclear deal reached last year.
Since brokering the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with world powers, Tehran has tested intercontinental ballistic missile technologies in violation of existing United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The weapons, known as ICBMs, are designed primarily to carry nuclear payloads.
A senior Obama administration official told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday night, “We’ve been looking for some time at options for additional actions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program based on our continued concerns about its activities, including the October 10 launch.
“We are considering various aspects related to additional designations, as well as evolving diplomatic work that is consistent with our national security interests.”
The official said the administration would keep Congress informed of any new policies in the works toward Iran.
Iranian officials responded on Thursday by denying any connection between their missile and nuclear programs. “Iran will resolutely respond to any interfering action by America against its defensive programs,” Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said, characterizing any new US sanctions as “arbitrary and illegal.”
A report on Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal alleged that potential sanctions would target some 12 companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates for their suspected role in developing Iran’s ballistic-missile program.
US officials have said the Treasury Department retains a right under July’s nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers, including Washington, to blacklist Iranian entities suspected of involvement in missile development, the Journal said.
Iranian officials said the country’s supreme leader would view such penalties as violating the nuclear accord.
The diplomatic test comes just weeks before the JCPOA is expected to enter into force.
Reuters contributed to this report.