Iran will not stop work on its missile programmes despite threatened new US sanctions designed to slow down work in that field, Defence Minister Hussein Dehghan said Friday, according to media reports.

"The missile programme is our red line and is not up for debate," he was quoted as saying, noting that the programme was part of Iran's internal security apparatus and a vital protection, especially given the threat posed by Islamic State forces in the region.

He noted that the missile programme was in no way linked to talks concluded last year between Iran, the United States and a group of other countries, which laid down a plan to limit Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities.

Nonetheless, Washington has been riled by Iran's ongoing missile tests, which it sees as an incitement. A senior US official said Thursday that the country is preparing fresh sanctions against Iran because of its continued work on the missile programme, evidenced by a successful test in October.

They would be the first sanctions since the nuclear agreement was signed.

The sanctions are to target nearly a dozen firms and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates for their role in Iran's ballistic missile programme, unnamed US officials told the Wall Street Journal and CNN.

A senior US official confirmed to dpa Thursday that additional sanctions were under consideration, but did not provide details about what those sanctions might entail.

"We've been looking for some time‎ at options for additional actions related to Iran's ballistic missile programme based on our continued concerns about its activities, including the October 10th launch," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also questioned the US approach to the manner in a New Year's message released on Twitter.

"A lot was accomplished in 2015 with diplomacy," he wrote, referring to the nuclear deal. He went on to say that people should learn from history and "repeat the successes, but not the failures."

Although the nuclear deal provides sanctions relief in exchange for steps to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, it allows sanctions in relation to Tehran's missile programme, the financing of terrorism and human rights violations.

The US declared Iran's October test of a medium-range rocket to be a violation of a UN Security Council resolution.

Iran says the missiles are conventional and cannot carry nuclear payloads, though this has not been confirmed by independent sources.

Related stories

US considers new Iran sanctions over missile programme

US hits Iran with sanctions over missile test

White House aware of Iran ballistic missile test

White House puts Iran "on notice" over ballistic missile test

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.