Iran says new U.S. economic sanctions over missile test are 'illegitimate'

By Amy R. Connolly  |  Jan. 18, 2016 at 11:00 AM
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TEHRAN, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Iran denounced new economic sanctions imposed by the United States over its ballistic missile program as "illegitimate" and without "legal or moral legitimacy."

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Jabber-Ansari said Monday the U.S. sanctions -- imposed hours after international sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program were lifted -- reflect "Iranophobia" and hostility. He said the country will react to the "propagandist and harassing measures by following up on its legal missile program in earnest and further improve the country's defense capabilities and national security."

The United States announced the new penalties Sunday on 11 Iranian companies and individuals for a ballistic missile test conducted in October that it says violated a United Nations ban. The country conducted a precision-guided ballistic missile test capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, officials said.

"We have consistently made clear that the United States will vigorously press sanctions against Iranian activities outside of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- including those related to Iran's support for terrorism, regional destabilization, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile program." the U.S. Treasury Department said.

Also Monday, Yukiya Amano, the head of the world's nuclear watchdog, said Iran has agreed to strengthen its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"Relations between the IAEA and Iran are now entering a new phase. We are committed to continuing our work in an impartial, factual and non-political way. Full cooperation from Iran is also needed," he said.

Andrew V. Pestano contributed to this report.

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