Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has denounced possible new US sanctions on his country which could jeopardise a hard-won nuclear deal due to be finally implemented within weeks.
In a letter to his defence minister, Rouhani said reports that the US Treasury Department planned to blacklist companies and individuals with ties to Iran’s ballistic missile programme constituted “hostile and illegal interventions” that justified a response.
The comments from Rouhani, who said the military should intensify its development of missiles, seemed to cause backtracking in Washington with reports that the White House had put the intended sanctions on hold indefinitely.
In the five months since the nuclear deal was struck US officials say Iran has conducted two missile tests, one of which state media reported at the time, on October 11. Iran also recently aired television footage of an underground missile base.
The actions angered the United States and a United Nations panel found earlier this month that the tests breached previous resolutions aimed at stopping the Islamic republic from developing missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
But the threat of new sanctions-the nuclear deal is due to lift past measures that froze Iran out of the global financial system and crippled its oil exports-brought already worsening relations to a head.