Iran has denounced new U.S. sanctions designating Tehran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and its elite Quds force as a supporter of terrorism in the Middle East.
Iranian state media quote Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini as saying the new U.S. measures are "doomed to fail." Hosseini says the sanctions violate international law and have no value.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced the sanctions in Washington Thursday. Rice said the decision was prompted by Iran's refusal to heed international demands that Tehran drop what she called its "unwise campaign" for nuclear weapons capability.
Iran has denied the charge, saying its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The sanctions include measures aimed at isolating three Iranian state-owned banks and more than 20 Iranian entities, including individuals and companies.
The restrictions freeze any assets the named parties may have under U.S. jurisdiction and forbid any U.S. citizen or organization from doing business with them.
The sanctions include designating Iran's defense ministry and the Revolutionary Guard Corps as proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. The measure cites the elite branch of the guards corps - the Quds force - for allegedly providing material support to terrorist groups including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Israel welcomed the decision. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev says the sanctions are an important contribution to the international effort to intensify pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear program.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the U.S. decision during a visit to Lisbon, Portugal. He said the sanctions threaten to make the situation worse.
The measures mark the first time the United States has targeted another country's military with sanctions.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.