U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran space agencies
The Trump administration imposed sanctions Tuesday on Iran's space agency for the first time, accusing it of developing ballistic missiles under the cover of a civilian program to launch satellites into orbit. The sanctions announced by the State and Treasury departments targeting the agency and two of its affiliates follow the explosion Thursday of a rocket at Iran's Imam Khomeini Space Center in what an Iranian official said was a technical malfunction during a test.
The United States imposed sanctions on Iran's civilian space agency and two research organizations on Tuesday, saying they were being used to advance Tehran's ballistic missile program.
The U.S. Treasury sanctions targeted the Iran Space Agency, Iran Space Research Center and the Astronautics Research Institute, according to a statement on its website.
"The United States will not allow Iran to use its space launch program as cover to advance its ballistic missile programs," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
He said Iran's Aug. 29 attempt to test a space launch vehicle underscored "the urgency of the threat."
The United States has warned Iran against rocket launches, fearing the technology used to put satellites in orbit could help it develop the ballistic missile capability needed to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran denies its activity is a cover for such development.
On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump posted on Twitter a photo of what appeared to be the site of a failed Iranian satellite launch.
"These designations should serve as a warning to the international scientific community that collaborating with Iran's space program could contribute to Tehran's ability to develop a nuclear weapon delivery system," Pompeo said.
Trump withdrew from a 2015 multi-national nuclear deal with Iran, saying it did not go far enough.