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Iran’s Zarif dismisses US space-agency sanctions as ‘totally ineffective’

Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Wolfgang Kumm/DPA/Abaca Press/TNS)
September 04, 2019

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran’s foreign minister has accused the United States of an overreliance on sanctions and said the latest punitive measures out of Washington targeting his country’s space and research sectors are “totally ineffective.”

“Americans are addicted to sanctions. These sanctions are totally ineffective,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by the semiofficial Tasnim news agency as saying on September 4 in the first public reaction to the U.S. move.

The day before, the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions against the Iran Space Agency, the Iran Space Research Center, and the Astronautics Research Institute, citing their alleged contributions to secretly developing ballistic missiles rather than an effort to put civilian satellites into orbit.

Tehran denies the accusations.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed that Washington “will not allow Iran to use its space launch program as cover to advance its ballistic missile programs.”

He said a failed Iranian test of a space-launch vehicle last week underscored “the urgency of the threat.”

Iran on September 2 confirmed an August 29 explosion at one of its launch pads at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in the north of the country. The explosion was believed to be the third failure involving an Iranian rocket this year.

The sanctions are part of a U.S. campaign since it abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and world powers of “maximum pressure” on Tehran to force it to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missiles programs.

The accompanying U.S. trade and economic sanctions have dealt a heavy blow to Iran’s economy and its currency.

Tehran has faced an uphill battle trying to get European states to keep trade and other economic lines open in the face of U.S. moves.

President Hassan Rohani on September 4 warned that Iran was poised to take “the most important” step away from its nuclear commitments but said Tehran would give Europe two more months to salvage the agreement.

Rohani said the third step will be “the most important one” and “will have extraordinary effects.”