United States sanctions: Iran aims to boost military spending in retaliation

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In a defiant response to new United States sanctions against Tehran, Iran's parliament approved a bill to strengthen its missile program.

As some lawmakers chanted "Death to America", Iran's parliament on August 13 granted its initial approval for increased funding of Teheran's missile program and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. US President Trump has warned North Korea, an ally of Iran, against firing the missiles and says he will protect Guam, home to 163,000 US citizens if that happens.

In a session Sunday, 240 lawmakers voted for the bill, with only one abstention, to confront "America's terrorist and adventurous actions" in the region.

According to the bill, Iran's combined government and military apparatus is tasked with devising a comprehensive strategic plan to counter the "US threats" within a period of six months following ratification of the bill.

Abbas Araghchi, a deputy foreign minister and senior nuclear negotiator on hand for the vote, said a moderate President Hassan Rouhani's government would support the bill.

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Iran's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee spokesman Seyed Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, while defending the bill, said the bill does not include any measure that would undermine JCPOA in any way; "Iran will never be the first to kill the nuclear deal and take responsibility for its costs", he added.

The bill will next head to a second vote before being submitted to a clerical body for final approval and passage into law.

Washington and European countries that negotiated the Iran nuclear deal have called the missile tests violations of the spirit of the 2015 accord, but not its letter.

The additional USA sanctions put in place last month directly target the missile programme and the IRGC.

Mr Trump has recently backed away from his key campaign promise to withdraw from the nuclear agreement.

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