Tehran has doubled its efforts to develop its ballistic missile capabilities in reaction to US attempts to stop it, a top Iranian commander said Saturday.
“We doubled our activities and the American demands from Iran had an opposite result,” the country’s Press TV quoted Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ (IRGC) Aerospace Force, as saying.
“Today, the enemies are bringing up the issue of missile-related sanctions and expecting us to back down. But, the IRGC’s reaction to this American demand will be aggressive,” he said.
Hajizadeh said the US was still a dangerous enemy to Iran, despite the signing and recent implementation of a nuclear deal between the sides, and the subsequent removal of many of the international sanctions on the Islamic republic.
“Has the enemy abandoned its intentions for hostile moves? Does the Revolution have no problem anymore? That’s not the case,” he said. “Our enemies, especially America, are still saying, ‘all options are on the table.
“They are after certain goals in a number of fields, including the military and war, targeting the country’s security, culture and economy because they have a problem with the essence of the establishment and their problem is not nuclear,” he said.
On January 17 the US announced new penalties related to Iran’s ballistic missile program after the lifting of punishing measures aimed at its atomic activities.
The Treasury Department said that it was imposing the penalties against 11 firms and individuals based in the United Arab Emirates that had helped provide secret materials to Iran to develop their ballistic missile program, against a United Nations Security Council resolution.
“Iran’s ballistic missile program poses a significant threat to regional and global security, and it will continue to be subject to international sanctions,” said Treasury Undersecretary Adam J. Szubin, according to a statement from the department. “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 Treasury said it was imposing penalties against a network of six companies based in the UAE and China, as well as five Iranian individuals.
Iran denounced the new sanctions as illegitimate.
“Iran’s missile program has never been designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said, according to the ISNA news agency.
In remarks shortly before the US announcement, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said that any new American sanctions would be “met by an appropriate response.”
Under the nuclear deal, the UN arms embargo on the country continues, as do ballistic missile restrictions.
However, Iran has test-launched ballistic missiles on at least one occasion since the nuclear deal was reached last July. Israel and other nations called on the US to take action against Iran after the tests, which broke a 2010 UN Security Council resolution, but the US did not follow through on pledges to impose penalties. Washington also offered no response to an Iranian navy rocket fired near a US warship in the Strait of Hormuz.
The implementation of the nuclear deal is expected to pave the way for a new economic reality in Iran, now freed from harsh international sanctions.
More than $30 billion in assets overseas will become immediately available to the Islamic Republic. Iran’s Central Bank Governor, Valiollah Seif, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying that Iran will not transfer the cash and instead will use it to import the goods it needs. Official Iranian reports have set the total amount of frozen Iranian assets overseas at $100 billion.
A European oil embargo on Iran will end. Already, some 38 million barrels of oil are in Iran’s floating reserves, ready to enter the market, according to the International Energy Agency.