Larijani calls for unity to counter USA sanctions

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Iran successfully tested a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit, state television reported on Thursday, an action the United States said breaches a United Nations Security Council resolution because of its potential use in ballistic missile development.

Choe Thae-bok, a vice chairman of the ruling party's central committee, met with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in February during his visit to Tehran. He said the US would continue countering Iran's ballistic missile program - including Thursday's "provocative space launch". It stops short of explicitly barring such activity.

He went on to hail recent launching of Iran's Simorgh satellite carrier into the orbit, saying the launch was a strategic move. "We consider that to be continued ballistic missile development".

He also rejected the notion that Iran was working to develop missiles that could carry a nuclear warhead.

While Iran insists its space programme is for peaceful purposes, officials in the USA have long said any components used to put a satellite into orbit can also be used for building an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the US.

The penalties reflect an attempt by President Donald Trump's administration to show it's staying tough on Iran even though Trump has yet to scrap the 2015 nuclear deal, despite threatening to do so as a candidate and arguing it's a bad deal.

Trump said he thinks the United States will declare Iran to be noncompliant at the next deadline, which is in October.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the launch also violates the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Before the passing of the particular bill, many experts believe that Iran might retaliate to it, and it does but verbally with a plan to fortify its ballistic missile program.

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