December 31, 2015 / 4:45 PM / 4 years ago

Rouhani says Iran has right to develop missiles, expands program

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani talks to journalists after he registered for February's election of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that chooses the supreme leader, at Interior Ministry in Tehran December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA

DUBAI (Reuters) - President Hassan Rouhani ordered his defense minister on Thursday to expand Iran’s missile program, in response to a U.S. threat to impose sanctions over a ballistic missile test Iran carried out in October.

“As the U.S. government is clearly still pursuing its hostile policies and illegal meddling ... the armed forces need to quickly and significantly increase their missile capability,” Rouhani wrote in a letter to Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, published on the state news agency IRNA.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is preparing new sanctions against international companies and individuals over Iran’s ballistic missile program, sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

Reporting by Sam Wilkin; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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