Iran on Thursday denounced new US sanctions on its ballistic missile program, saying it is designed to continue the policy of “maximum pressure” against Tehran.
Washington on Wednesday announced a new round of sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program, weeks after a missile strike in Erbil, which was claimed by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The US Department of Treasury said the new sanctions targeted IRGC's division associated with research and development of ballistic missiles, as well as Parchin Chemical Industries (PCI), a component of Iran's Defense Industries Organization (DIO), and an intermediary involved in procurement of parts for missiles.
“Iran’s ballistic missile-related activities continue to destabilize the Middle East region, and the United States will continue to use every tool at our disposal to disrupt them,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
In response, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the sanctions "prove the US government's malice" towards the Iranian people.
Khatibzadeh said the US government, despite claiming readiness to return to the full implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, "continues to violate the deal and UN Security Council Resolution 2231".
The new round of sanctions came as the marathon negotiations to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord have entered the final stretch.
While Tehran has demanded the removal of sanctions in the talks, underway since last April, it has declared its missile program “non-negotiable”, raising concern in the West.
Iran has in recent years made steady progress in developing high-precision ballistic missiles, cruise missiles as well as a range of drones.
Last month, Iran unveiled Khyber Shikan missile, a third-generation missile in the IRGC's armory with 1,450 km range, propelled by "solid fuel" and boasting of "high maneuverability" to pass through a missile shield.
In December last year, more than a dozen ballistic missiles and drones were showcased during a military drill, which targeted a mock-up model of Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility.
Meanwhile, the eighth and the decisive round of talks has been indefinitely suspended, as both sides discuss the remaining sticking points, including the de-listing of the IRGC.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a recent interview termed the IRGC's de-listing as one of the "key remaining issues", and said if the Americans take a "realistic approach", the agreement will be "within the reach.”
In response, US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley asserted that the IRGC will continue to be on the US blacklist, de-linking it with the ongoing nuclear deal talks.