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Nothing ‘Off the Table’ in Responding to Iran’s Missile Launch, says US President Donald Trump

Trump's tweets have stated how seriously the US plans to deal with Iran's association with the missile firings

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President Donald Trump . Courtesy: VOA
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U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that Iran has been “formally put on notice” for its ballistic missile launch, and warned that “nothing is off the table” in dealing with Tehran.

In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Trump also continued his condemnation of the agreement that the U.S. and five other world powers reached to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Trump said Iran should be “thankful” for the agreement, and that the country was “ready to collapse” before the billions of dollars were unfrozen.

Later, at a White House meeting with Harley-Davidson executives and union members, Trump said “nothing is off the table” in response to a reporter who asked whether military action against Iran was an option.

The nuclear deal required Iran to limit its enrichment of uranium and convert several of its nuclear facilities to other uses.

On Wednesday, it was Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who condemned Iran’s recent missile launch, declaring it “just the latest in a series of incidents” in which Iran has threatened the U.S. and its regional allies over the past six months.

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He said leaders in Tehran were emboldened to take such action now because the nuclear agreement is “weak and ineffective,” and because the other nations involved in the agreement failed to take action to rein in Iran’s military ambitions.

 

During a briefing at the White House, Flynn accused former President Barack Obama and other members of his administration of not being tough enough on Tehran.

 

Ian Lustick, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told VOA the U.S. has to be careful in dealing with Iran’s actions, citing as an example that Iran could make things worse for the 6,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

“The majority of the population in Iraq is Shia, and sympathetic in one way or another to Iran,” Lustick said. “There are very large and powerful militias in Iraq that are commanded by and trained by the Iranians. Those are some of the best fighting units that have had success against ISIS.”

ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State.

Warning to Iran

Iran also is being advised to proceed cautiously. Houchang Hassan-Yar, an international relations professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, told VOA Persian that the tone of Trump’s warnings toward Tehran is similar to the tough rhetoric of former President George W. Bush, and marks a contrast with Obama’s “cerebral” approach.

“Given Trump’s unpredictability and the fact that his national security and military advisers have written extensively about Iran as a regional threat to U.S. interests and those of U.S. allies, Iranian rulers would be well advised to think carefully about their next steps,” Hassan-Yar said.

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A U.S. advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran, says international businesses are uncertain about Tehran’s behavior. UANI has discouraged its contacts from trying to establish new deals with Iran.

FILE – An Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile is displayed by the Revolutionary Guard during a military parade, in front of the shrine of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Sept. 21, 2016. VOA

 

In an interview with VOA Persian, UANI President David Ibsen said companies are asking whether Iranian missile tests will result in a reimposition of financial sanctions on Tehran.

“They also ask, if a company has dual national citizens [in Iran], will they be kidnapped or held incommunicado by the Iranian regime? Will they be doing business with front entities for the regime or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps? All these risks are very real, and companies have taken our warnings to heart,” Ibsen said.

Resolution 2231

Iran confirmed Wednesday that it carried out a missile launch Sunday, but said this did not violate the nuclear agreement by six world powers and Tehran in 2015. U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted after the nuclear deal was reached, called on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles, but it did not specifically ban such activity.

Shahir Shahidsaless, an Iranian-Canadian political analyst, told VOA Persian on Wednesday that the resolution’s lack of an explicit ban on ballistic missile activity is problematic for Washington.

“The United States cannot rely on this resolution to condemn Iran at the U.N. Security Council, and for the same reason, Russia and China will not cooperate with the U.S. on this,” Shahidsaless said.

The new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, addresses a Security Council meeting of the United Nations, Feb. 2, 2017. VOA

 

The new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, addresses a Security Council meeting of the United Nations, Feb. 2, 2017.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, denounced Iran’s missile launch as “absolutely unacceptable” during a Security Council meeting Tuesday, and said the Trump administration will not turn a “blind eye” to such actions.

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Britain’s U.N. envoy, Matthew Rycroft, echoed Haley’s concerns.

Iran’s U.N. mission issued a statement reiterating Tehran’s position that “Security Council Resolution 2231 does not prohibit legitimate and conventional missile activities.” (VOA)

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Donald Trump Negotiates Trade Deal With Japan

Trump to negotiate the trade deal with Japan

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Donald Trump is the President of U.S.
FILE IMAGE- Donald Trump

The US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday he is negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with Japan and that his country would only re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) if its member countries offered him a deal he could not refuse.

“I don’t want to go back into TPP. But if they offered us a deal I can’t refuse on behalf of the US, I would do it. In the meantime, we are negotiating, and what I really would prefer is negotiating a one-on-one deal with Japan,” Donald Trump said at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

However, Abe stressed his country’s position towards the TPP, saying that it “is the best for both countries,” although he acknowledged the US’s interest in a bilateral trade deal, Efe reported.

Trump said that should his country reach a trade agreement with Japan, there will be talks about the possibility of ending tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a move that Washington introduced in March to a number of countries, including Japan.

Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump added that his primary concern at the moment is the “massive” trade deficit with Japan, which amounted to “from $69 billion to $100 billion a year.”

In fact, the trade deficit with Japan last year stood at $69 billion, far from the $100 billion that the US President claimed, according to the official figures by the US Department of Commerce.

The two leaders made these announcements in a joint press conference at the tycoon’s private club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where Abe arrived on Tuesday to have meeting with Trump on his four-day visit to the US.

Also Read: China And Russia Accused of Manipulating Their Currencies By Trump

Last week, the White House announced that Trump had asked the US foreign trade representative Robert Lighthizer and the economic adviser Larry Kudlow to “take another look at whether or not a better deal (with the TPP) could be negotiated.”

However, Trump has shown little interest in negotiations that would further complicate the matter, since the other 11 countries that negotiated the original TPP, with the then Barack Obama administration, have already signed their own multilateral deal, the so-called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), or TPP-11.

Shinzo Abe
FILE IMAGE- Shinzo Abe.

On the other hand, during this four-day visit Abe has a special interest in getting an exemption for Japan from the 10 per cent and 25 per cent tariffs that the Trump administration imposes on aluminum and steel imports, respectively.

Trump has granted a temporary exemption until May 1 to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the European Union.

Also Read: White House Denies Any Direct Talks Yet Between Trump And Kim

Japan has been left out of the exempted countries despite being one of the US’s major allies, and for that reason Abe is trying to make use of his visit to secure a place on that list, although Japan barely produces aluminum and the amount of steel exported to the US stands at only around 5 percent of its total steel exports.  IANS