Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) today that Iran will defy U.S. pressure and further enhance the country’s controversial missile program. “The Islamic Republic’s missile power expanded during absolute sanctions regime and will continue and accelerate without a pause,” it said in a statement. The elite force thanked the Iranian government and people for voicing support for the I.R.G.C. after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on the I.R.G.C. for its support for terrorism in the region. The statement stressed that the I.R.G.C. will continue to confront the United States and Israel.

“The hostile positions of America’s rogue and thoughtless president in insulting the Iranian nation and imposing new, cruel sanctions against the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) indicate that the devilish policies of rulers of the White House and the Zionist regime for changing the regional map and dividing and weakening Islamic countries have failed. Their anger emanates from I.R.G.C.’s decisive role in this regard.”

The statement stressed that it is the “revolutionary duty” of the I.R.G.C. to confront the United States and Israel with more determination and not spare any effort to defend the Islamic Revolution. It concluded by saying that the Islamic Republic will step up its efforts to expand its influence in the region and enhance the country’s missile power.

Comment: Iran’s launch of several ballistic missiles this year has been one reason the Trump administration has accused Tehran of violating the “spirit” of the nuclear agreement, imposed new sanctions on Iran, and recently decertified the deal.

There appears to be a consensus among political and military leaders in Tehran to continue and further advance Iran’s missile technology at any cost. At the first press conference since winning reelection, President Hassan Rouhani the Islamic Republic would continue its ballistic missile program despite Washington’s concerns. “American authorities should know that whenever we need to test a missile for technical reasons, we will carry it out. And we will not wait for them or their permission,” he said defiantly after U.S. and Saudi leaders criticized Tehran’s regional policies at the Riyadh summit. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has also stressed that his country would further enhance its missile power  “We have missiles and they are very precise. They can hit targets with precision from thousands of kilometers away. We will forcefully preserve and enhance this capability.”

Last month, Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Iran’s willingness to negotiate its missile program with the United States. Baharm Ghassemi, the ministry’s spokesman, said the Iranian government vehemently refutes claims made in a Reuters report that Tehran was ready to negotiate parts of its controversial missile activities. “The Islamic Republic of Iran – in its public statements and diplomatic meetings with foreign authorities as well as interviews and meetings by Foreign Minister [Javad Zarif] during his trip to New York – has repeatedly emphasized that its defense programs are non-negotiable and does not consider it [missile program] inconsistent with the [U.N.] Resolution 2231,” Ghassemi said. “Iran considers missile defense programs as its legitimate right and will certainly continue it within the framework of its defensive, conventional and determined plans and strategies,” he added.

While the nuclear agreement does not address Iran’s missile program, the subsequent “calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” Iranian leaders argue that the country’s missiles are not designed to carry nuclear warheads, but U.S. officials some of the missiles Iran has tested after the 2015 nuclear deal have been "inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons" and are "in defiance of" the U.N. resolution.