U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is rejecting Iranian criticism of Washington's use of punitive sanctions, saying they are imposed when it's appropriate.

Kerry says U.S. sanctions against Iran and other nations have been "used judiciously and effectively" and will continue to be used in the future. Kerry told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, "We stand by our sanctions."

His comments came Thursday in response to a complaint lodged by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (zah-REEF'), who told The Associated Press in an interview that new U.S. sanctions over Iran's ballistic missile testing are "illegal" and an example of an American "addiction to coercion." The missile sanctions were imposed on Sunday, a day after the U.S. and other nations lifted nuclear sanctions on Iran.