Despite stern warnings and a new rounds of sanctions from the U.S. government, Iran has adopted a defiant stance regarding its missile program by conducting more test launches over the weekend.
While mainstream media attention was consumed by the violent riots at UC Berkeley and Superbowl weekend, last week saw a major escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Iran, leading some to speculate on the prospect of a potential military conflict. Things first began to take a turn for the worse when Iran tested a ballistic missile last Monday. While the test did not violate the 2015 nuclear pact brokered by the Obama administration, it did provoke a strong response from Trump and some members of his cabinet. After both Trump and National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice”, a new round of sanctions were announced – the first since the 2015 nuclear accord. Restrictions were imposed on 25 Iranian individuals and entities related to the nation’s ballistic missile program. Trump later warned Iran that it was “playing with fire”, adding that he would not be as “kind” as his predecessor.
Despite the strong response from the United States, Iran has taken a defiant stand, conducting even more missile tests over this past weekend. Tehran also announced this weekend that it would respond to Friday’s announcement of new sanctions by promising to disclose the names of U.S. individuals and companies involved in the funding and creation of various terrorist groups active in the Middle East.
According to the Tasnim news agency, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp’s aerospace division, confirmed Iran’s successful testing of several land-to-land missiles and radar systems in the Iranian province of Semnan. Hajizadeh, in addition to confirming the missile tests, offered some inflammatory remarks ostensibly directed at the U.S. and its regional ally Israel, saying that recent threats against Iran were “nonsensical” and stating that “If we see the smallest misstep from the enemies, our roaring missiles will fall on their heads.” The tests were allegedly conducted in order to “showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions.” However, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, insisted that “we will never use our weapons against anyone, except in self-defense.”
Iran’s defiance of Trump’s rhetoric and retaliatory measures could place the U.S. president in an awkward position, especially considering that Trump has repeatedly derided the Obama administration’s “weak” leadership and negotiation skills in dealing with Iran and other foreign powers for years. Now that Iran has publicly demonstrated its disdain for the U.S.’ retaliatory measures, Trump now faces no other choice but to act decisively to counter further defiance on Iran’s part lest he risk losing credibility that could potentially hamper his dealings with other foreign powers. Given the Trump administration’s somewhat heavy-handed response to the initial missile test that took place early last week, it seems that Trump is more likely to pursue an equally or even more aggressive stance following this weekend’s events – even though such provocation of Iran is hardly in the best interest of the United States.
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