U.S. slaps Iran with more sanctions after rocket launch into space

WASHINGTON — The United States punished Iran on Friday for it launch this week of a satellite-carrying rocket into space by hitting six Iranian entities with sanctions targeting the country’s ballistic missiles program.

The sanctions hit six Iranian subsidiaries of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, described by the Treasury Department as “central” to Iran’s ballistic missiles program. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin cast the sanctions as part of an ongoing U.S. effort to aggressively oppose Iran’s ballistic missile activity, including what he called a “provocative space launch” carried out by the Islamic Republic on Thursday. 

“These sanctions target key entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and underscore the United States’ deep concerns with Iran’s continued development and testing of ballistic missiles and other provocative behavior,” Mnuchin said in a statement. 

In another allegation against the U.S. adversary, Mnuchin said that missile attacks on U.S. partner Saudi Arabia over the weekend by Houthi rebels in Yemen had likely come with the support of Iran. The U.S. has long accused Tehran of shipping weapons to the Houthis, a Shiite group that controls part of Yemen and is being fought by a Saudi-led coalition. 

The sanctions come a day after Iran successfully launched its most advanced satellite-carrying rocket into space, in what was likely a major advancement for the country’s safe program. The “Simorgh” rocket is capable of carrying a satellite weighing 550 pounds, Iran state television said. 

Despite the fact it carried a satellite into space, the U.S. has argued the launch was tantamount to a ballistic missile launch because that type of long-range missile technology is inherently designed to be able to carry a nuclear payload. To that end, the State Department has said the launch violated the spirit of the nuclear deal and also flouted a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls on Iran not to conduct such…

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