The White House expects Iran to finish work needed to trigger implementation of an international nuclear deal in the coming weeks, but Washington needs more time to prepare sanctions over its ballistic missile program, a US official said on Saturday.
The administration had additional diplomatic and technical work to complete before announcing any new sanctions related to the missile program, but the delay was not a result of pressure from Tehran, said Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.
Implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was on track after Iran shipped its stockpile of low enriched uranium out of the country, though it still had many other important things to complete, Rhodes said.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered his Defense Minister on Thursday to expand Iran's missile program, in defiance of the US threat to impose sanctions over a ballistic missile test Iran carried out in October.
The decree also required the Defense Ministry to think of new missile production programs at a much wider scale in case Washington continues its sanctions policy against Iran's defense industries.
President Rouhani further reminded that Tehran has time and again underlined all throughout the nuclear negotiations with the six world powers - that ended up in the nuclear deal in Vienna in July - that it would “never negotiate with anyone about its defense power, including the missile program, and would never accept any restriction in this field, emphasizing its entitlement to the legitimate right of defense,” Fars News Agency (FNA) reported.
The destruction power and precision of Iran’s missiles will increase, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said Saturday following this new presidential decree.
“Following the President’s letter, we held numerous meetings with the executive officials, commanders and officials in the missile sector and decided work out appropriate plans as soon as possible to enhance the defensive power and capability as well as the effective deterrence power of our missiles contrary to the will of the hegemonic system which seeks to restrict the Islamic Republic militarily,” Dehqan added.
He also underscored his country’s serious intention to further develop its missile power.
Stressing that the Defense Ministry seeks to optimize its ballistic missiles in different aspect, Dehqan said, “Increasing the precision-striking, destructive and blast power of our missiles... are among the Defense Ministry’s plans in the missile field.”