Iran: US sanctions for missile tests would be 'illegal'

Iran: US sanctions for missile tests would be 'illegal'
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Iran is condemning U.S. plans to issue sanctions after Tehran conducted two ballistic missile tests, saying the measures would be "arbitrary and illegal."

"Iran will resolutely respond to any interfering action by America against its defensive programs," state television quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari as saying Thursday, according to Reuters.

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The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the U.S. government was preparing to sanction 12 companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates for their suspected role in Iran's growing ballistic missile program, which experts believe is to deliver nuclear warheads.

U.S. officials say that they have authority to impose the sanctions under the nuclear deal reached in July. While the agreement lifted sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, officials say the U.S. can still impose sanctions for illicit behavior regarding the ballistic missile program or human rights violations.

"As we have declared to the American government ... Iran's missile program has no connection to the [nuclear] agreement," Ansari countered.

Iranian officials have said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would view such penalties as violating the nuclear accord.

Ballistic missile tests by Iran are banned under United Nations Security Council resolution 1929, which remains in effect until the nuclear deal is fully implemented.

Once the deal takes effect, according to Reuters, Iran will still be "called upon" not to undertake any ballistic missile work designed to deliver nuclear weapons for a period of up to eight years, according to a Security Council resolution adopted in July right after the nuclear deal.

Iran claims the resolution would only ban missiles "designed" to carry a nuclear warhead, not "capable of" doing so.