[JURIST] Iran has condemned the US for imposing new sanctions in connection with the country's missile defense program. The sanctions were imposed [NTY report] Sunday by the US Treasury Department [official website] against 11 companies and individuals connected to Iran’s ballistic missile program. According to officials in Iran, the missile system is not designed to carry nuclear warheads “and therefore, it is not at odds with any international norm.” Iran has stated its intention to respond to the sanctions "by pursuing its legal missile program more seriously and enhance its defense and national security capabilities." This new development comes within two days of the announcement of the lifting of other US sanctions against Iran and confirmation from the US about a completed deal [JURIST report] with Iran on an exchange of prisoners.
Over the past several years Iran has been subject to numerous sanctions for its contentious nuclear program. Iranian leaders have repeatedly claimed [JURIST report] that the developing nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the international community, Israel in particular, worries that Iran's enrichment program was designed for military purposes. The US and France agreed [JURIST report] in March to strengthen nuclear talks with Iran to persuade the nation to restrain its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions and in April Iran agreed [JURIST report] to a framework deal to restrict its nuclear plan. Developments in this regard were largely positive and resulted in subtle improvement in ties between the US and Iran. A report obtained by the Associated Press in July from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [official website] showed [JURIST report] that Iran has been keeping its commitment as part of a preliminary nuclear deal from 2013 barring Iran from expanding nuclear programs during negotiations. The Iranian Parliament accepted [JURIST report] the nuclear agreement in October and moved the process on to the Guardian Council [BBC backgrounder], which determined [FRE/RL report] the legislation was consistent with the constitution and Islamic law. And as little two days ago, Iran agreed to release [JURIST report] four US citizens in exchange for seven Iranians being held in the US for violating former US sanctions.