On Tuesday, the State Department announced that the United States had imposed sanctions on Iran’s space agency for its involvement in the regime’s ballistic missile development.
The department approved the Iran Space Agency and two affiliates for engaging in proliferation-sensitive activities.
Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, tweeted that the U.S. has sanctioned Iran’s civilian space agency, which develops the same space launch vehicle technology used in ballistic missiles, for the 1st time. He further added, “We call on our allies to join us in deterring the world’s top sponsor of terrorism from growing its ballistic missile program.”
The department’s statement said that the United States will not allow Iran to use its space launch program as cover to advance its ballistic missile programs. Further it said, “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.”
This announcement came five days after a rocket exploded at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in the northern province of Semnan.
According to Iranian official, the explosion resulted from a technical default during a test. U.S. officials have said a surveillance image of the explosion’s outcome gave evidence that the Iranian space program is used to develop missiles, and these missiles also includes one capable of carrying nuclear warheads or other weapons of mass destruction over long distances.
A United Nations Security Council resolution prohibits Iran from activity related to the development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran insists it is developing rockets to launch satellites into space, which it has done twice since 2013 but the explosion marked the third failure involving a rocket at the Iranian center.
The sanctions are the latest action in the Trump administration’s escalating campaign of economic and diplomatic measures since withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement last year.