US: More Time Needed for New Missile Sanctions

US: More Time Needed for New Missile SanctionsUS: More Time Needed for New Missile Sanctions

The White House expects Iran to finish work needed to trigger the implementation of an international nuclear deal in the coming weeks, but Washington needs more time to prepare sanctions over its ballistic missile program, a US official said on Saturday.

The administration had additional diplomatic and technical work to complete before announcing any new sanctions related to Iran's missile program, but the delay was not a result of pressure from Tehran, said deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, Reuters reported.

"We have additional work that needs to be done before we would announce additional designations, but this is not something that we would negotiate with the Iranian government," Rhodes told reporters in Hawaii, where US President Barack Obama is on vacation.

President Hassan Rouhani ordered his defense minister on Thursday to expand Iran's missile program, in response to the US threat to impose sanctions over a ballistic missile test Iran carried out in October. Meanwhile, implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was on track after Iran shipped its stockpile of low enriched uranium out of the country, though it still had other important things to complete, Rhodes said.

"I would expect the Iranians to complete the work necessary to move forward with implementation in the coming weeks," Rhodes said. "We are on track to see the implementation of the Iran deal move forward."

The nuclear deal, which was concluded between Iran and major powers on July 14, will place time-bound constraints on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions.