Trump: ‘Nothing off the table’ in response to Iran missile test
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Trump: ‘Nothing off the table’ in response to Iran missile test

US president issues another warning to Tehran, as Republicans back tougher line

US President Donald Trump in the White House February 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP/ Brendan Smialowski)
US President Donald Trump in the White House February 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP/ Brendan Smialowski)

US President Donald Trump said that “nothing is off the table,” when it came to a response to Iran’s controversial test this week of a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Trump was responding to a question about whether a military response to Iran was under consideration.

“Nothing is off the table,” he replied, borrowing a phrase Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used for years vis-à-vis Tehran’s nuclear program.

Trump’s comment followed a string of remarks by Republican senators, including the House Speaker, backing additional sanctions on Iran in the wake of the missile test, which prompted an emergency UN Security Council session and a call by Netanyahu to reimpose punitive measures.

“I would be in favor of additional sanctions on Iran,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said at a weekly press conference on Thursday. “We need to have a tough-on-Iran policy… We should stop appeasing Iran.”

“I think the last administration appeased Iran far too much. I think they went too far with Iran and I think as a result Iran is far more activist than it otherwise would be,” he said.

In this Sept. 21, 2016 file photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
In this Sept. 21, 2016 file photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

“Iran, don’t forget … is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Iran writes on their missiles in Farsi, Hebrew and English ‘Death to America’, ‘Death to Israel’ and then tests them. So this is not a friendly country that has global peace or national security interests in their minds,” Ryan added.

Trump had earlier on Thursday tweeted that “Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the US made with them!” echoing remarks made Wednesday by his national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Also Thursday, Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Reuters, “I think there’s a lot that we can do, now, that we were unable to do before to push back against Iran,” adding that the committee was “in the early stages” of working on legislation related to the nuclear deal.

“The administration, thankfully, is going to follow through on appropriately holding Iran accountable for the violations that are taking place,” he said.

Senator Lindsey Graham joined the chorus Thursday, telling CNN that “the world should not only condemn Iran but we should have multi-national sanctions against the regime for their continued violation of the UN Security Council resolutions regarding their missile program.”

On January 29, Iran is said to have tested a 4,000-kilometer (2,500-mile) ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. On Thursday, the German newspaper Die Welt reported that Iran also tested a home-made cruise missile with the same capabilities: The Soumar, with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles), flew 600 kilometers (373 miles) on its maiden voyage, according to the German report.

It is reportedly a re-engineered Russian KH-55 cruise missile, which is capable of reaching Israel from Iran, and has the advantage that it can be launched from ships, aircraft and submarines.

The Soumar cruise missile at its unveiling in March 2015. (YouTube screenshot)
The Soumar cruise missile at its unveiling in March 2015. (YouTube screenshot)

The missiles are not covered by UN Resolution 2231, which was passed shortly after the nuclear deal with Iran was signed in July 2015 and calls on Tehran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” Iran argues that its ballistic missile program is also not covered by the resolution because it does not have a nuclear weapons program.

During his campaign, Trump promised both to “dismantle the disastrous deal” and to “force the Iranians back to the bargaining table to make a much better deal, but in a call to the Saudi king on Sunday promised to “vigorously enforce” the controversial agreement.

Netanyahu on Thursday demanded the reimposition of sanctions against Iran, terming the test a “flagrant breach” of UN Security Council resolutions, and said he would discuss with Trump a reevaluation of the “entire failed nuclear accord” during their February 15 meeting in Washington.

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