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White House says more work needed before any Iran sanctions

  • Kevin Freking

    The Jakarta Post

Honolulu | Sun, January 3 2016 | 07:35 am
Escalating tensions: This file picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, claims to show the launching of an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile in an undisclosed location. Iran tested a ballistic missile again in November 2015, a U.S. official said Dec. 8, describing the second such test since this summer’s nuclear agreement. The State Department said only that it was conducting a "serious review" of such reports. The test occurred on Nov. 21, according to the official, coming on top of an Oct. 10 test Iran confirmed at the time. The official said other undeclared tests occurred earlier than that, but declined to elaborate. The official wasn’t authorized to speak on the matter and demanded anonymity. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

Escalating tensions: This file picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, claims to show the launching of an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile in an undisclosed location. Iran tested a ballistic missile again in November 2015, a U.S. official said Dec. 8, describing the second such test since this summer'€™s nuclear agreement. The State Department said only that it was conducting a "serious review" of such reports. The test occurred on Nov. 21, according to the official, coming on top of an Oct. 10 test Iran confirmed at the time. The official said other undeclared tests occurred earlier than that, but declined to elaborate. The official wasn'€™t authorized to speak on the matter and demanded anonymity. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

The White House said on Saturday it has more diplomatic and technical work to do before it will announce any sanctions in response to ballistic missile launches by Iran.

The U.S. is considering designating a number of additional targets for sanctions related to Iran's ballistic missile program. Congress has been notified of those deliberations.

Some lawmakers have criticized the administration for what they describe as delayed punitive action in response to Iran's recent missile tests.

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said the pact that the U.S. and others negotiated with Iran last year to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon will not impede future sanctions.

"The fact of the matter is we have additional work that needs to be done before we would announce additional designations, but this not something that we would negotiate with the Iranian government," Rhodes said. "They don't get a say in who we impose sanctions on."

Rhodes spoke with reporters about the year ahead in foreign policy as President Barack Obama prepared to return from his annual Christmas vacation in Hawaii.

Rhodes said the additional work the U.S. is undertaking is not based on push-back from Iran.

"We fully expect them to protest our sanctions. They do that when they know we're preparing them. They do that after we make announcements of designations." In this latest case, he said, "we just have additional work that we need to do as a U.S. government before we would announce additional designations." (**)

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