"Sanctioning this prominent scientific and political figure, which has been made only out of desperation, will have no effect on the development of the Islamic Republic of Iran's peaceful nuclear program," Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said Friday.
"This is not the first time that he has been placed on the list of illegal and unilateral sanctions, just as it is not the first time that our nuclear scientists have been the target of the animosity of the US and the Zionist regime," Mousavi said.
The remarks came after the US Treasury Department announced sanctions targeting AEOI and its top official on Thursday.
Mousavi added that the new sanctions targeting Iran, among Washington's other hostile measures against the country, were aimed at diverting public opinion from Donald Trump’s failed policies and the ongoing impeachment process.
"US officials seem to have put such crude and absurd motions on the agenda against the Iranian nation to divert public opinion from the domestic developments stemming from Trump's impeachment and the early failure of the so-called deal of the century."
AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi also dismissed the sanctions as a "political game" which have been imposed out of desperation and have no value.
"Iran's nuclear programs will strongly continue" despite the sanctions, he said.
“Imposing sanctions on Ali Akbar Salehi and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran is a sign of America’s despair and is a political game played by Washington. These sanctions have no value and are childish measures,” Kamalvandi said.
The US Treasury will, however, issue waivers to sanctions that bar non-US firms, including Russian, Chinese, and European companies, from continuing their work in certain AEOI-related projects such as the heavy water reactor in Arak, the Fordo enrichment facility, the Bushehr nuclear power plant, and the Tehran research reactor.
Leading Republican senators and other Iran hawks had lobbied intensively to stop the latest waivers as Trump seeks to exert more pressure on Iran after the two longtime foes came toward the brink of war in early January.
Thursday's sanctions announcement comes against the backdrop of widespread American sanctions already imposed on Tehran after Washington withdrew from the multilateral Iran 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018.
The Trump administration has since repeatedly imposed new sanctions on Iran, with many questioning whether they have much of an effect with far-reaching bans already targeting all trade with the country.
The sanctions are part of the Trump administration's “maximum pressure” campaign, which Tehran views as a form of economic terrorism.
Press TV and Reuters contributed to this story.