Saturday, February 25, 2017
   
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US slaps new sanctions on Iran over missile test

Trump administration issues fresh sanctions against 13 Iranians and 12 entities as Washington-Tehran tensions simmer.

ballistic missile

The United States has announced new sanctions against Iran following a stream of threats and warnings over a recent missile test.

In a statement on its website on Friday, the US Treasury added 13 Iranian individuals and 12 entities, some of which are based in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and China.

"Iran's continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile program poses a threat to the region, to our partners worldwide, and to the United States," said John Smith, acting director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Among those sanctioned on Friday were companies, individuals, and brokers the US Treasury said support a trade network run by an Iranian businessman, Abdollah Asgharzadeh.

Treasury said he supported Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, which the US has said is a subsidiary of an Iranian entity that runs Iran's ballistic missile programme.

Treasury also sanctioned what it said was a Lebanon-based network run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the elite military body that is also powerful in Iranian politics and the economy.

Hours earlier, US President Donald Trump said Iran was "playing with fire" after Tehran dismissed his warnings over its latest missile test as unfounded and provocative.

In another early morning post on Twitter, Trump said his administration would not be as "kind" to Iran as the government of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

"Iran is playing with fire - they don't appreciate how 'kind' President Obama was to them. Not me!"

The comment appeared to prompt a quick response from Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister.

"Iran unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people. Will never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defence," Zarif wrote also on Twitter.

Also on Friday, Iran said it had barred a US wrestling team from participating in the Freestyle World Cup competition in retaliation for an executive order by Trump banning visas for Iranians, Iran's state television reported.

'Baseless, repetitive and provocative'

On Wednesday, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn insisted the missile test was in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran not to test missiles capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.

Bahram Ghasemi, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, on Thursday called the claims "baseless, repetitive and provocative".

Iran has confirmed that it had tested a ballistic missile, but denied that it violated the terms of the nuclear deal.

Tehran said its missiles did not breach UN resolutions because they were for defence purposes only and were not designed to carry nuclear warheads.


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