US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday accused Iran of honing its ballistic missile skills through a satellite launch and vowed to exert more pressure on Tehran to stop its missile development.
Iran said Sunday that its latest attempt to launch a satellite had failed to place it in orbit as planned.
Pompeo said the technology involved in a space launch was “virtually identical” to the knowhow for a long-range ballistic missile.
“Each launch, whether failed or not, further allows Iran to gain experience using such technologies that could benefit its missile programs under the guise of a peaceful space program,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“The United States will continue to build support around the world to confront the Iranian regime’s reckless ballistic missile activity, and we will continue to impose enormous pressure on the regime to change its behavior,” he said.
The Trump administration in 2018 slapped sweeping sanctions on Iran as it withdrew the United States from a nuclear accord negotiated by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
Tensions soared last month after Trump responded to Iranian-allied Shiite militias’ attacks on bases housing US troops in Iraq by ordering a drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.