War of words comes in wake of Tehran’s missile test and subsequent new sanctions levied by Trump
February 7, 2017
Iranian officials continued to rail against the US after its latest ballistic-missile test launch led to President Donald Trump slapping the Islamic Republic with fresh economic sanctions.
Relations between Tehran and Washington have deteriorated sharply since Trump took office last month, promising a tough line on what he sees as Iranian belligerence toward US interests.
Iran’s test firing of a ballistic missile last week has led to an increasingly tense stand-off between Washington and Tehran.
On Monday, senior Iranian officials warned the White House against provocative language.
Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri cautioned that the “ultimate losers” were those who employed the “language of force” against the Islamic Republic.
“The Americans have chosen a wrong path these days and we hope that they will revise their approach and practice interaction,” Jahangiri told reporters at the Abadan Airport.
Iran’s Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri warned that “those [who are] rude [and] employ a language of force will be the ultimate losers.”
Over the weekend, US Defense Secretary James Mattis called Iran “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” while US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn warned that Washington would no longer turn a blind eye to Tehran’s “hostile and belligerent actions.”
Drawing a more stark line in the sand, US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday warned Tehran “not to test the resolve” of the Trump administration.
However, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the recent missile test was not intended to gauge the new administration.
“Iran’s missile test was not a message to the new US government,” Qassemi said in response to Pence.
“There is no need to test Mr. Trump, as we have heard his views on different issues in recent days … We know him quite well,” he said.
On Friday, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Iran in response to a recent missile test. The sanctions target more than two dozen people and companies from the Persian Gulf to China.
The sanctions came days after the US said it was putting Iran “on notice” for test-firing a medium-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, which the White House contends violated a UN Security Council resolution proscribing missiles that could carry a nuclear device.
The Islamic Republic has confirmed it tested a ballistic missile, but denied it was a breach of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers or UN resolutions.
Iran reacted furiously to the new sanctions and, on Saturday, staged a show of defiance by deploying missiles for a Revolutionary Guards exercise. The Guards said the maneuvers were aimed at demonstrating their “complete preparedness to deal with the threats” and “humiliating sanctions” from Washington.
Meanwhile, a handful of top military officials threatened military action if the US were to strike Iran.
The charged rhetoric has raised questions over whether the United States will abandon commitments it made under a landmark deal — negotiated with several world powers and approved by president Barack Obama in 2015 — that obliged Iran to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for relief from US and international sanctions.
Trump has made no secret of his contempt for the accord, and officials said Friday’s measures would not be the last.
“Iran is playing with fire — they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!” Trump tweeted.
On Saturday, Trump asserted Tehran was “emboldened” by the 2015 agreement to act confrontationally on the world stage.
Though Trump has been cagey on specifics regarding Iran, the White House has said that “nothing is off the table” — even military action.
Agencies contributed to this report.