On Thursday, Iran launched a satellite-carrying rocket into space in what was likely a notable advance for its space program, the AP reports. On Friday, the US and three other countries condemned that launch, and the US levied sanctions on six Iranian entities as punishment. According to Reuters, a member of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency says the "Simorgh" rocket launched by Iran this week "could be configured to be an ICBM" of the type that could carry a nuclear warhead. "Progress in Iran's space program could shorten the pathway to an ICBM, as space-launch vehicles use similar technologies, with the exception of their payloads," he says. In a press release, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calls it a "provocative space launch."
In a joint statement, the US, Britain, Germany, and France say the rocket launch is "inconsistent" with the Iranian nuclear deal. "We call on Iran not to conduct any further ballistic missile launches and related activities," the statement reads. Sanctions levied Friday by the US target subsidiaries of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group that are "central to Iran's ballistic missile program." Iranian officials say they continue to comply with the nuclear deal. "Iran is not and will not be developing nuclear weapons," Iran's foreign minister says. But Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, says the US "can't trust" Iran. And experts believe Iran is using its space program as an excuse to create new military technologies.