US imposes more sanctions on Iran in response to space launch
The United States has imposed new ballistic missiles sanctions on Iran in response to its launch of a satellite-carrying rocket into space a day earlier.
The sanctions target six Iranian subsidiaries of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group. The Treasury Department said that group is "central" to Iran's ballistic missiles programme.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions illustrate deep US concerns about Iran's missile testing and other actions. He said the US will continue countering Iran's ballistic missile programme including Thursday's "provocative space launch".
The US has said that launch flouted a UN Security Council resolution because the technology is inherently designed to be able to carry a nuclear payload.
The sanctions come as the Trump administration continues debating its Iran policy and whether to scrap the 2015 nuclear deal.
"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," Mr Mnuchin said.
In another allegation against the US adversary, Mr Mnuchin said that missile attacks on US partner Saudi Arabia over the weekend by Houthi rebels in Yemen had likely come with the support of Iran.
The US 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 come a day after Iran successfully launched its most advanced satellite-carrying rocket into space, in what was a major advancement for the country's space programme.
The Simorgh rocket is capable of carrying a satellite weighing 550 pounds, Iran state television said.
Despite the fact it carried a satellite into space, the US has argued the launch was tantamount to a ballistic missile launch because that type of long-range missile technology is inherently designed to be able to carry a nuclear payload.
The penalties reflect an attempt by President Donald Trump's administration to show it is staying tough on Iran even though he has yet to scrap the 2015 nuclear deal, despite threatening to do so as a candidate.
Mr Trump's administration has also been pushing for inspections of sensitive Iranian military sites where US intelligence agencies believe Iran may be conducting illicit activity prohibited by the nuclear pact.