Iran defense triggers concern

The Revolutionary Guard used missiles to attack Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh) positions in the Syrian province of Deir Az Zor, marking the first time Iranian military forces fired missiles at another country in three decades, but the move has created concern about the deal reached to end that country’s nuclear program.

The missile attack was a retaliation for two deadly attacks in Tehran that were claimed by the armed group.  At least 17 people were killed ISIL in the June 7 attacks on Iran’s parliament and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini that left 17 people dead.

The firing of the missiles, the first in 30 years outside Iran’s own territory, came hours after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a statement on his website, vowed Iran would “slap its enemies” in honor of the victims’ families, including those killed in Syria and Iraq.

Iran possesses a large amount of different missiles, from short-range missiles to long-range cruise-missiles, and has been working on its ballistic missile program for several decades, using both Soviet and proprietary technology.

Diplomatic efforts to reach a comprehensive, long-term and proper solution to the Iranian nuclear issue culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) concluded in July 2015 by China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, the High Representative of the European Union (the E3/EU+3) and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“I think you all know that the president has made very clear that he thought this was a bad deal, a bad deal for the United States,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on the same day the Trump administration declared that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal for the second time.

“The conditions have been met, based on information available to the United States,” said one White House official on Monday, who said Trump made his first such certification earlier this year.

By law, the administration has to decide every 90 days whether Iran had fulfilled its obligations under the pact the Obama administration brokered with Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

In a shift from Trump’s campaign promise to “rip up” what he called the “worst deal ever” during the campaign, officials said that the administration was working with US allies to try to fix the agreement’s flaws, including the expiration of some nuclear restrictions after a decade or more.

The U.S.threatened more sanctions for breaching the “spirit” of the agreement, Iran’s ballistic missile program as well as Iran’s “fast boat” program, which uses small vessels to harass U.S. Navy patrol boats in the Persian Gulf.

Officials who said that the United States would slap new sanctions on Tehran, penalizing the Islamic Republic for contributing to regional tensions, also emphasized several long-standing US concerns about human rights abuses and Iran’s alleged support for “terrorism” in the region.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “will make certification today on behalf of the president” that the accord’s terms agreed to in Geneva two years ago “have been met based on the information available to the United States as of today,” a senior administration official told reporters late Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision before it was formally announced and Congress was informed.

Tillerson also plans to criticize Iran, saying it “remains one of the most dangerous threats to U.S. interests and to regional stability” and “is unequivocally in default of the spirit” of the agreement, the official said.

The U.S. has criticized Iran for supporting the government of Bashar Assad in Syria and fomenting unrest in Yemen and elsewhere in the region, however Trump is ending US support for Syrian rebels in what looks like an accommodation to Russia.

Russia is an ally of Syria and Iran, and Trump has retreated on several fronts regarding America’s relationship with the former Soviet empire. For example, he has used rhetoric that weakened the NATO alliance, ended the US’s leadership of the free world by withdrawing from the Paris climate accords, terminating CIA support for Syrian rebels, considering a return of two diplomatic compounds seized by the Obama administration to punish Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and betraying shared Israeli secrets while hosting Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office.

Khamenei made several remarks in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to suggest that the emergence of division and conflict in Iraq is the opportunity the US is looking for to inflict damage in the Muslim world.

“Daesh is now fleeing and leaving Iraq and this admirable success is the result of the internal coherence and unity in Iraq and also the correct policy of the Iraqi government in trusting the young and faithful Iraqi forces and their presence at the heart of the battlefield,” said Khamenei, who added, “The opposition of the Americans against the popular forces is due to fact that they want Iraq to lose the key element of its might.”
Ayatollah reiterated, “Under no circumstances trust the Americans, because they are waiting for an opportunity to strike their blow.”


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