Iran brushes off new US sanctions as "propaganda" as IAEA head visits

New sanctions imposed on Iran's ballistic missile programme by the United States are mere "propaganda," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jaber Ansari said Monday in Tehran.

The measures introduced at the weekend by Washington are aimed at mollifying the critics - both inside and outside of the United States - to a nuclear deal hammered out by Iran and a group of international powers during the course of the last year.

Weekend confirmation of the deal's implementation, which requires Iran to limit its nuclear capabilities, allowed the lifting of many international sanctions on Tehran on Saturday, Ansari said.

However, the US imposed the fresh sanctions due to concerns that ballistic missiles recently tested by Iran could carry atomic warheads, a claim Ansari said was baseless on Monday. US President Barack Obama said Sunday that testing the missiles was a violation of international agreements.

Iran disagrees with the US assessment. The missiles were intended for defence purposes and posed no threat to other countries, Ansari said.

Meanwhile, action on the nuclear deal continued, as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Tehran Monday, to discuss further inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities under the deal.

IAEA head Yukiya Amano was to meet with President Hassan Rowhani and Iran's nuclear head Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) reported.

"We still have business to attend to with Amano, even after the deal," Rowhani was quoted as saying in another ISNA report Sunday.

The two sides would have to work closely together regarding the further inspections agreed, he said, adding that he hoped to build improved trust in the relationship.

Meeting in Brussels, EU foreign ministers spoke favourably of the deal and tried to minimize the focus on the new sanctions.

"You know, every time that you have positive steps on security and cooperation, there are always some reactions and that is quite normal," said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. We have to absorb them and for sure guarantee that this becomes a step towards cooperation in the region.

"We have shown that even the most difficult relations can come to positive results, through dialogue, through diplomacy, through cooperation, and this is true also for the actors in the region. We know, peace is not going to come soon and easily, as the deal did not come soon and easily, but it came in the end."

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders was also effusive.

"I am delighted that we can, for once in a meeting ,welcome a very favourable decision, that is the implementation of the Iranian nuclear agreement, because it can also weigh on the situation in the region," he said.

"The fact of being able to lift the sanctions, the fact of having Iran return to the international scene, is a positive element in the region today."

Meanwhile, the price of oil fell to a more-than 12-year low on Monday, adding to concerns that the lifting of sanctions against Iran will boost the global oversupply of the commodity.

Brent crude dropped to 27.67 dollars a barrel - its lowest price since 2003. US crude also slumped to a more-than 12-year low of 28.36 dollars a barrel.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25
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