Iran to boost missile arsenal after US slaps new ban

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif insists ballistic missile programme not covered in the nuclear deal signed last July.

    Iran to boost missile arsenal after US slaps new ban
    Zarif was traveling to Islamabad with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, shown here with Pakistan's army chief Raheel Sharif [AP]

    Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has announced that his country will "further boost" its military arsenal, in response to a US move banning two companies with alleged links to the Iranian ballistic missile programme.

    Zarif said on Saturday that there are no limits to Tehran's missile capability, "because this programme has nothing to do with nuclear weapons", the state television PressTV quoted him as saying.

    "We will respond to recent US measures against Iran’s missile programme by further boosting our missile power," Zarif, speaking from the Pakistani capital Islamabad, said.


    READ MORE: Iran launches ballistic missiles during military drill


    Zarif was traveling with President Hassan Rouhani, who was on a two-day state visit to Pakistan.

    Last December, Rouhani had ordered Iran’s Defence Minister Hossein Dehqan to accelerate the production of "various types of missiles", to improve the country's defence.

    Three months later, Iran tested the long-range Qadr and Qiam ballistic missiles during military exercises on March 8 and 9.

    In response, the US blacklisted on Thursday the Shahid Nuri and Shahid Movahed industries, for supporting a company directly involved with Iran's missile programme.

    Last July, Iran signed a nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers. But the agreement left a number of differences unresolved, including the issue on the use of ballistic missiles.

    Iran said that its ballistic missile programme is not covered in the deal, but the US and other western nations said the tests still violate a UN resolution.

    Iranian hacking

    Meanwhile in Tehran, Zarif's top spokesman said the US has no proof that hacking on US financial institutions were carried out by Iranians.

    "The US cannot simply accuse foreign citizens and charge them without having concrete proof," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jaber Ansari was quoted as saying by Iran's IRNA news agency.

    The US has charged seven Iranians with ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for cyber attacks targeting the US financial sector and a dam, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

    Hans Blix on the threat of nuclear war

    Iran, which has often been a victim of cybercrime itself, condemns such hacker attacks, Ansari said.

    The so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks occurred over 176 days from 2011 to 2013 and hit 46 financial sector institutions by disabling bank websites, preventing access to accounts and costing tens of millions of dollars to fix the problems, US officials said.

    One hacker also gained access to the systems of a dam outside New York City in 2013, prompting fears about the safety of the US electrical grid.

    The individuals worked at two Iranian computer firms, ITSecTeam and Mersad Company, that did work for the Iranian government.

    Those who were accused could face up to 10 years in prison, but their prosecution are unlikely because they live in Iran.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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