Iran’s parliament has overwhelmingly voted to increase spending on Tehran’s ballistic missile programme and the elite Revolutionary Guards in retaliation for new sanctions imposed by the United States.
In a session on Sunday, a total of 240 politicians out of 244 present voted to allocate $520m to develop the country’s missile programme and boost foreign operations of the paramilitary troops, with only one abstention.
Parliamentarians approved the outlines of the bill to “counter America’s terrorist and adventurist actions in the region” as some chanted “Death to America” after the vote results were announced.
The vote came in reaction to legislation passed by the US Congress and signed by US President Donald Trump in early August to impose new sanctions on Iran over its missile programme.
The sanctions followed Iran successfully testing a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit.
“The Americans should know that this was our first action,” said speaker Ali Larijani after announcing the overwhelming majority vote for the package on Sunday.
Iran denies its missile programme violates a UN resolution that endorsed Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and calls upon the Islamic Republic not to conduct activities related to ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.
Tehran says it does not design such missiles.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was sworn in for a second term earlier this month, called the nuclear deal “a sign of Iran’s goodwill on the international stage”.
Iran has launched ballistic missiles in tests, something it is allowed to do under the deal, despite American criticism.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told members of parliament the government and the foreign ministry backed the bill, which he said “was designed wisely so that it does not violate the nuclear deal and provide excuses for opposing sides”.
“Iran boasts potential and actual options to confront hostile US actions,” said Araqchi.
The Iranian plan would require Iran’s government and armed forces to draw up a strategy to counter US violations of human rights around the world, and to support Iranian bodies and individuals affected by American sanctions.
The bill must now pass a second vote before being submitted to a clerical body for final approval and passage into law.