09/04/2019, 10.33
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New US sanctions target Iran’s space program

The measure concerns the Iranian Space Agency, the Space Research Center and the Institute for Astronomical Research. For Washington, the (failed) launch attempt on August 29 shows "the urgency of the threat". Tehran ready to re-enter the nuclear agreement in exchange for 15 billion, as per French proposal.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The United States has introduced more sanctions on Iran overnight, this time affecting the civil space agency and two research organizations. According to Washington these bodies were used to promote the ayatollah's ballistic missile program. Tehran's reply is immediate, according to which the space business is not a cover for the development of systems aimed at launching weapons.

The sanctions issued by the US Treasury concern the Iranian Space Agency, the Space Research Center and the Institute for Astronomical Research. In a note, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized that "the United States will not let Iran use the space program as a cover for the development of ballistic missile systems".

The head of US diplomacy adds that the (failed)  attempt to test a space launch vehicle underscored “the urgency of the threat.” The reference is to the rocket that exploded on the launch pad of the Imam Khomeini Space Center, in northern Iran. Already last January there was an attempt - also a failed one - to launch a satellite.

The White House believes the long-range ballistic technology for putting satellites into orbit would actually be a cover for the launch of nuclear warheads. The State Department also adds that Iranian space agencies have collaborated in the past with the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, a liquid-propellant ballistic missile organization already subject to sanctions.

US-Iranian tensions were triggered by US President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ​​agreed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, which was followed by the toughest sanctions in history against Iran. Washington, which has its sight sets on the oil exports of the Islamic Republic has strengthened its military presence in the area. But the sanctions are primarily affecting the population.

In recent days, US President Donald Trump posted a photo on Twitter that, according to the Americans, represents the site where the failed satellite launch took place. These tests, he added, should serve as a "warning" to the international scientific community, for which "collaborating with Iran's space program" is actually a "contribution" to the "ability" of the ayatollahs to "develop a launch system nuclear".

Meanwhile, this morning a senior Iranian official confirmed that Tehran is ready to return to the commitments provided for in the nuclear deal in exchange for the 15 billion dollars, corresponding to the proceeds from the sale of four months of oil. The Islamic Republic therefore seems to want to accept the plan proposed by France, for the opening of a credit line of 15 billion up to the end of the year if it returns to full respect for the Jcpoa. However, a predictable veto by the United States weighs heavily on the proposal.

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