The USA slapped sanctions on Iran’s civilian space agency and two research groups Tuesday, saying they were being used to improve Tehran’s ballistic missile plans.
The U.S. Treasury penalties targeted the Iran Space Agency, Iran Space Research Center and the Astronautics Research Institute, based on a statement on its web page.
“The US won’t allow Iran to use its space launch program as a cover to improve its ballistic missile programs,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned in a statement.
He said Iran’s Aug. 29 attempt to test a space launch vehicle marked “the urgency of the threat.”
An Iranian rocket blasted on its launch pad at Imam Khomeini Space Center in northern Iran before its programmed launch last Thursday. The explosion followed Iran’s failed attempt to launch a satellite in January.
The penalties, part of a years-long U.S. stress campaign to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons, are the first imposed on Iran’s space agencies, following the State Division. The US fears long-range ballistic missiles used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads.
The Iran Space Agency builds satellites and launch vehicle technology, and works with the Iran Space Research Center on everyday duties as well as research and development, in accordance with the State Department. The two have also worked with a penalized liquid propellant ballistic missile organization, Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, the State Department mentioned.
The Astronautics Research Institute has managed the space vehicle launch mission, following the department.
U.S. President Donald Trump posted Friday on Twitter a photo of what appeared to be the location of the failed Iranian satellite launch.