Iran says new US sanctions illegitimate

Iran says new US sanctions illegitimate

DUBAI - Reuters
Iran says new US sanctions illegitimate

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses the media at the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016.AP Photo

Iran on Jan. 18 said new U.S. curbs on the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile programme were illegitimate, vowing to continue developing its conventional military deterrent.

The United States imposed sanctions on 11 companies and individuals on Jan. 17 for supplying Iran's ballistic missile programme in a move delayed by over two weeks so as not to endanger this weekend's release of U.S. prisoners. 

The new measures also came after the lifting of far more comprehensive nuclear sanctions. 

"The Islamic Republic will respond to these aggravating and propagandistic measures by pursuing its legal missile programme stronger than before and developing its defensive capabilities," a foreign ministry statement said. 

Iran conducted a ballistic missile test in October, which the United Nations called a breach of a resolution prohibiting the Islamic Republic from developing missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads. Iran insists the missile was designed to carry a conventional payload. 

Foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said Washington's sales of weaponry to allies in the Middle East, worth tens of billions of dollars each year, was used to commit "war crimes against Palestinian, Lebanese and most recently Yemeni citizens". 

"The U.S. sanctions against Iran's ballistic missile programme ... have no legal or moral legitimacy," he said. 

Hardline newspapers Kayhan and Vatan-e-Emrooz splashed the news on their front pages, crowding out a triumphal speech by President Hassan Rouhani, who on Jan. 17 hailed the lifting of the nuclear sanctions. 

"Sanctions are back!" ran the Kayhan headline. The article pointed out that Tehran's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had said new sanctions under any pretext would constitute a breach of the nuclear deal.