Iran launches new missile just days after being hit by US sanctions over previous ballistic launch

New surface-to-air missile launch not covered by terms of 2015 nuclear deal but likely to further inflame relations between Tehran and Washington

Thursday 09 February 2017 10:45 GMT
In this file photo from November 13, 2012 a surface-to-air missile is launched during military manoeuvres at an undisclosed location in Iran
In this file photo from November 13, 2012 a surface-to-air missile is launched during military manoeuvres at an undisclosed location in Iran

Iran has conducted another missile test, just days after the US slapped new sanctions on the country for launching a mid-range ballistic missile last month, US media reports.

A defensive surface-to-air (Sam) rocket was launched from Semnan in central Iran on Wednesday, both CNN and Fox News reported US officials as saying.

Last week US President Donald Trump’s administration published a list of 13 Iranian individuals and 12 entities facing new sanctions after it emerged that Iran had tested what it said was a non-nuclear ballistic missile. He had warned in a message on his Twitter account that the country was “playing with fire.”

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the world's leading sponsor of terrorism and engages in, and supports, violent activities that destabilise the Middle East,” US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said in an accompanying statement.

“That behaviour seems continuous despite the very favourable [nuclear] deal given to Iran by the Obama administration. These sanctions target those behaviours.”

Iran maintains that the Jan 28 mid-range ballistic missile test did not contravene either a UN resolution nor the 2015 historic US-Iran nuclear deal regarding curbing the expansion of the country’s nuclear arsenal, as the missile was not capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The new test on Wednesday, a Sam missile, was also not covered by the nuclear treaty.

Michael Flynn: We're officially putting Iran on notice

It comes as tensions between Tehran and Washington continue to deteriorate since President Trump took office a few short weeks ago. Mr Trump’s proposed ‘Muslim ban’ - which is currently being challenged in federal courts - targeting citizens of Iran and six other Muslim countries was met with outrage in Tehran, which quickly imposed a retaliatory travel ban for US citizens and announced Iran’s central bank would stop uisng the US dollar for official and financial reporting.

On the campaign trail, Mr Trump repeatedly criticised former President Barack Obama’s stance on Iran and his administration’s 2015 nuclear deal, which eased decades of crippling international sanctions in return for changes to Iran’s nuclear programme.

While the administration has dampened down talk of scrapping the deal, Mr Flynn said last week that the international community had been “too tolerant of Iran's bad behaviour,” including several other missile tests in the last 18 months.

“The days of turning a blind eye to Iran's hostile and belligerent actions towards the United States and the world community are over,” he said.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement last week that the country would not allow its domestic security to become the “focus of international debate”.

“The amateur and irrational policies of the new US administration will change nothing about the principles of Iranian politics,” it read.

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