After Iran missile test, U.S. lawmakers call for continued sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dozens of U.S. Republican senators called on President Barack Obama on Wednesday not to lift sanctions on Iran, saying Tehran’s recent ballistic missile testing showed “blatant disregard for its international obligations.”

Thirty-six of the 54 Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, signed a letter urging Obama not to lift sanctions on Iran as planned under an international nuclear agreement announced in July.

The letter, seen by Reuters, said the missile tests enhance Tehran’s capability to target Israel and U.S. troops in the region. “That is why it is a mistake to treat Iran’s ballistic missile program as separate from Iran’s nuclear program,” the letter said.

The letter was organized by Senator Kelly Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

U.S. Republican lawmakers, and several of Obama’s fellow Democrats, have been deeply skeptical about the nuclear deal. Their worries have intensified since Iran’s rocket test on Oct. 10.

In a report first reported by Reuters, a team of sanctions monitors found on Tuesday that Iran violated a U.N. Security Council resolution by test-firing a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Gehghan was quoted by state media on Wednesday saying that Iran will not accept any restrictions on its missile program.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Ken Wills