Clinton urges new sanctions on Iran over missile tests
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Clinton urges new sanctions on Iran over missile tests

Democratic presidential candidate calls Tehran's anti-Israel rhetoric 'repulsive'; White House says more launches likely in offing

A long-range Qadr ballistic missile is launched in the Alborz mountain range in northern Iran on March 9, 2016. (AFP/Tasnim News/Mahmood Hosseini)
A long-range Qadr ballistic missile is launched in the Alborz mountain range in northern Iran on March 9, 2016. (AFP/Tasnim News/Mahmood Hosseini)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said she was “deeply concerned” by Iran’s long-range ballistic missile tests and called for fresh sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Iran fired two long-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, one of which was stamped with threats in Hebrew and Persian to annihilate Israel, as it continued military tests in defiance of US sanctions and fresh warnings from Washington.

“I am deeply concerned by reports that Iran has tested multiple missiles, which it claimed were stamped with words declaring that ‘Israel should be wiped from the pages of history,'” Clinton said.

She described the missile launches as “a blatant violation of Iran’s UN Security obligations,” and said it “must have consequences.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to workers at the Detroit Manufacturing Systems facility on March 4, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to workers at the Detroit Manufacturing Systems facility on March 4, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

“Iran should face sanctions for these activities, and the international community must demonstrate that Iran’s threats toward Israel will not be tolerated,” she added.

Clinton also slammed the “repulsive” rhetoric against Israel.

Iran state TV trumpeted Wednesday’s test as officials boasted that it demonstrated the country’s might against longtime nemesis Israel, with at least one missile emblazoned with the words “Israel must be wiped off the face of the Earth,” according to the Fars news agency.

Coming just weeks after the implementation of Iran’s historic nuclear deal with world powers, this week’s multiple missile tests were described by Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards as a show of force in the face of US pressure.

The White House said it “would not be a surprised” if Iran launched more missiles in the coming days.

“We know that Iran is working aggressively to enhance its ballistic missile capability. We will continue to redouble our efforts with allies and partners in the region to limit Iran’s ability to develop their missile program outside of international conventions,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

“We know Iran is in a season for carrying out a number of military activities. It would not be a surprise if there are additional launches over the next several days in addition to launches we’ve seen this week,” he added.

Video aired on state TV showed the golden-hued Qadr H missiles being fired from a crevice between brown peaks identified as being in Iran’s eastern Alborz mountain range. The rockets hit targets some 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) away off Iran’s coast into the Sea of Oman, state media and Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency reported.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, was quoted as saying the test was aimed at showing Israel that Iran could hit it. Israel is within 1,100 kilometers (660 miles) of Iranian territory.

“The 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime,” Hajizadeh said. “Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war. It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles.”

He stressed that Iran would not fire the missiles in anger or start a war with Israel.

“We will not be the ones who start a war, but we will not be taken by surprise, so we put our facilities somewhere that our enemies cannot destroy them so that we could continue in a long war,” he said.

Earlier Wednesday, US Vice President Joe Biden said that the United States would take action against Iran if long-range ballistic missile tests Tehran said it carried out were confirmed.

US Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give joint statements to press in the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (AFP/POOL/DEBBIE HILL)
US Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give joint statements to press in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (AFP/POOL/DEBBIE HILL)

“A nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and the United States. And I want to reiterate which I know people still doubt here: If in fact they break the deal, we will act,” he said in Jerusalem.

“All their conventional activity outside the deal, which is still beyond the deal, we will and are attempting to act wherever we can find it.”

After similar tests on Tuesday, Washington warned it could raise the issue with the UN Security Council and take further action after US sanctions were imposed in connection with Iran’s missile program in January.

The Qiam and Qadr, each capable of carrying payloads greater than 500 kilograms, fit the UN definition for missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, said Jeremy Bennie, Middle East and Africa editor for IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.

The now-lifted 2010 ban covered missiles with a range of at least 300 kilometers (186 miles) and a payload capacity of at least 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds), under a definition by a UN panel of experts.

The nuclear accord was a victory for Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, over hard-liners who sharply opposed reining in the nuclear program. But since the deal was reached, hard-liners in the military have made several shows of strength.

In October, Iran successfully test-fired a new guided long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile.

UN experts said the launch used ballistic missile technology banned by the Security Council. In January, the US imposed new sanctions on individuals and entities linked to the missile program.

Ballistic missile tests have been seen as a way for Iran’s military to demonstrate that the nuclear deal will have no impact on its plans, which it says are for domestic defense only.

The hard-fought deal, which saw international sanctions lifted in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, did not extend to its missile program.

Biden spoke after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who forcefully opposed the nuclear accord with Iran.

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