HONOLULU (AP) — The White House said on Saturday it has more diplomatic and technical work to do before it will announce any sanctions in response to ballistic missile launches by Iran.
The U.S. is considering designating a number of additional targets for sanctions related to Iran's ballistic missile program. Congress has been notified of those deliberations.
Some lawmakers have criticized the administration for what they describe as delayed punitive action in response to Iran's recent missile tests.
Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said the pact that the U.S. and others negotiated with Iran last year to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon will not impede future sanctions.
"The fact of the matter is we have additional work that needs to be done before we would announce additional designations, but this not something that we would negotiate with the Iranian government," Rhodes said. "They don't get a say in who we impose sanctions on."
Rhodes spoke with reporters about the year ahead in foreign policy as President Barack Obama prepared to return from his annual Christmas vacation in Hawaii.
Rhodes said the additional work the U.S. is undertaking is not based on push-back from Iran.
"We fully expect them to protest our sanctions. They do that when they know we're preparing them. They do that after we make announcements of designations." In this latest case, he said, "we just have additional work that we need to do as a U.S. government before we would announce additional designations."