Donald Trump says 'Iran is playing with fire' after ballistic missile test

'Iran unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people,' Iran's foreign minister says

Chris Stevenson
Friday 03 February 2017 12:32 GMT
Donald Trump has been involved in a war of words with Iranian officials over the country's latest missile test
Donald Trump has been involved in a war of words with Iranian officials over the country's latest missile test (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

President Donald Trump has accused Iran of "playing with fire" as part of a diplomatic spat over Iran's latest ballistic missile test.

Referring to the previous administration of Barack Obama, Mr Trump added that the Iranian government didn't appreciate how "kind" that the US had been to them - a potential reference to the nuclear deal struck with the US and other world powers in 2015 where Iran's nuclear capability was reduced in return for a loosening of sanctions. Mr Trump said that he would not follow a similar path.

Shortly after My Trump's tweet Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said via the same platform that the his country is unmoved by US threats following its missile test launch and Tehran will never initiate war.

“Iran unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people. Will never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defence,” Mr Zarif tweeted

The episode follows a tweet from President Trump a day previously that he had put Iran “on notice” over a the missile test that could be in contravention of a UN resolution. He added that Tehran in that should have been “thankful” for the nuclear deal as the country was on “its last legs”.

The warnings appear as an early manifestation of Mr Trump's promise of a tougher American approach to Iran, but the Thursday tweet received an angry response in Tehran - which may have prompted the latest outburst. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted by state TV as saying: “Instead of thanking Iran for its continued fight against terrorism ... the American government is practically helping the terrorists by claims about Iran that are baseless, repetitive and provocative.”

The missile test occurred at a well-known site outside Semnan, about 140 miles east of Tehran. The Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile flew 600 miles before exploding, in a failed test of a reentry vehicle, US officials said.

Iran said it had successfully test-fired the ballistic missile that the US said had exploded early, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

“The missile test on Sunday was successful ... the test was not a violation of a nuclear deal with world powers or any UN resolution,” defence minister Hossein Dehghan told Tasnim.

A top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran will not yield to US threats over a recent ballistic missile test that was aimed at limiting its defence capabilities.

“This is not the first time that an inexperienced person [US President Donald Trump] has threatened Iran ... the American government will understand that threatening Iran is useless,” Ali Akbar Velayati was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars News Agency.

“Iran does not need permission from any country to defend itself.”

The warning from the US could foreshadow more aggressive economic and diplomatic measures against Iran.

Three senior US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters a range of options, including economic sanctions, were being considered and that a broad review was being conducted of the US posture toward Iran.

“We are in the process of evaluating the strategic options and the framework for how we want to approach these issues,” the official said. “We do not want to be premature or rash or take any action that would foreclose options or unnecessarily contribute to a negative response.

“Our sincere hope is that the Iranians will heed this notice today and will change their behaviour.”

Iran has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but the latest test was the first since Mr Trump became President.

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