USA imposes sanctions on Iran space agencies

US Secretary of State

US Secretary of State

The new sanctions were also imposed against the Iran Space Research Center and the Astronautics Research Institute, blocking their US assets and prohibiting USA citizens from doing business with them.

The United States on Tuesday imposed its first-ever sanctions against Iran's space agency, accusing it of disguising a missile program.

A senior administration official said the sanctions were meant to send a clear signal that foreign entities could be cut off from the USA financial system through secondary sanctions if they worked with any of the three institutions.

The sanctions are part of the Trump administration's escalating campaign of economic and diplomatic measures against Iran since unilaterally withdrawing previous year from an worldwide accord that was meant to curb the Iranian nuclear program.

Tehran has not officially commented about the manifestations from aerial pictures in which a rocket blew up Thursday on the pad at a site in northern Iran called the Semnan Space Center.

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei added that no one had been killed in the explosion, according to the government portal Pad Dolat.

The image Mr Trump shared last week appeared to show devastating damage to the launch site and the charred remains of a rocket and launchpad after what appeared to be a fire.

The blast followed two failed satellite launches of the Payam and Doosti in January and February.

Iran says its space program is aimed at building rockets to launch telecommunications satellites.

The sanctions came a few days after a rocket exploded Thursday at the Imam Khomeini Space Center.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the Trump administration would not stand by and pretend Iran's space program is separate from its nuclear weapons work.

"These designations should serve as a warning to the worldwide scientific community that collaborating with Iran's space program could contribute to Tehran's ability to develop a nuclear weapon delivery system", he further alleged.

A U.N. Security Council endorsing the 2015 global agreement that limited Iran's nuclear program calls on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

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