The United States and European allies sharpened their tone on Iran on Friday, demanding that it immediately halt ballistic missile tests, a day after it tested a rocket carrying a satellite.
With relations with Iran already tense, the US Treasury imposed fresh sanctions, singling out six companies owned or controlled by Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), which it said was central to the Islamic republic’s missile program, freezing their US assets and barring US citizens from dealing with them.
Foreign financial institutions could face punitive measures if they deal with the blacklisted firms, it added.
SHIG was already under United Nations, US and European Union sanctions.
The White House also indicated that President Donald Trump would sign into law a bill passed by both houses of Congress endorsing sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
In a joint statement, Britain, France, Germany and the US condemned Tehran’s “provocative” and “destabilizing” action, saying the test was in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
“We call on Iran not to conduct any further ballistic missile launches and related activities,” they added.
Resolution 2231 was passed two years ago to endorse a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
It lifted economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
The resolution called on Iran not to test ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and an arms embargo remained in place.
All four Western governments have written to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres about their “concerns”, according to the joint statement.
It said the British, French and German governments are discussing the issues in talks with Iran.
The United States has had no diplomatic ties with the Islamic republic since 1980, and Trump has halted the direct contacts with Tehran initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama.
Iran denied all accusations against it and said it has “proven its compliance with the nuclear deal” as repeatedly confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“Iran does not recognise any limits to its scientific and technological progress and will not wait for the approval or permission of any country regarding the activities of its scientists and experts,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said.
“Tests regarding the launch of satellite-carrier rockets are Iran’s definitive right and in full compliance with our country’s international commitments.”