JERUSALEM – Iran is not backing down from developing its space program despite severe warnings from the United States.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zariff announced Thursday that it will continue its space program which includes Space Launch Vehicles (SLV) – devices similar to ballistic missiles.
"There is no international law that prohibits us from [continuing] ," said Zarif.
President Hassan Rouhani also said the Islamic Republic will soon launch two new satellites into orbit.
"Soon, in the coming weeks, we will send two satellites into space using our domestically-made rockets," Rouhani said Thursday.
Iran usually debuts its space program achievements in February during the anniversary of the country's Islamic Revolution in 1979. Iran has sent multiples satellites into space over the last decade.
The US and allies are concerned the same technology Iran uses to launch satellites into space will be used to create long-range missiles capable of reaching the West.
"The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime's destructive policies place international stability and security at risk," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. "We advise the regime to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation."
Pompeo said the Space Launch Vehicles "incorporate technology that is virtually identical to that used in ballistic missiles" and launching them would violate the U.N. Security Council resolution on the 2015 nuclear deal."
"The United States has continuously cautioned that ballistic missile and SLV launches by the Iranian regime have a destabilizing effect on the region and beyond," Pompeo said. "France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and many nations from around the world have also expressed deep concern."
Iran repeatedly insists it is not violating international law.
Pompeo is currently touring the Middle East to ensure America's allies that the Trump administration is not walking away from the region despite threatening to pull out of Syria. Many allies are concerned America's absence in the region will pave the way for creeping Iranian influence.
On Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Washington officials "first-class idiots" revealing the tension between the US and Tehran.
Meanwhile, unemployment has risen dramatically in Iran as US sanctions continue to strangle the Islamic regime's economy.
Omid Ali Parsai, chairman of the Iranian Statistical Center (ISC), said the official unemployment rate among Iranian youth has reached 27 percent and is more than 40 percent for university graduates.
According to Radio Farda, at least eight percent economic growth is needed to reduce unemployment. The World Bank predicts that in 2019 Iran will suffer a 3.7 percent drop in economic growth.
Ayatollah Khamenei admits the sanctions are taking a toll on the country, but not without a direct threat aimed at the US.
"The Americans happily say that these sanctions are unprecedented in history. Yes, they're unprecedented. And the defeat that the Americans will face will be unprecedented, Allah willing," he added.