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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

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)

Next Story

U.S. President Donald Trump Announces Military Deal With India

Trump Announces Military Deal With India, Expresses Optimism For Trade Pact

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Donald Trump, Narendra Modi
President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands during a "Namaste Trump," event at Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium. VOA

By Steve Heman

President Donald Trump said Monday the United States will sign an agreement to sell $3 billion worth of U.S. helicopters and other equipment to India’s military.

The announcement came as Trump spoke at a welcome rally in the city of Ahmedabad, where a crowd of more than 100,000 people had gathered to hear from him and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Ahead of the visit, Trump had said a new major trade deal between the two countries would not be part of this trip.  But in his address he promised the two countries will be making “among the biggest ever trade deals,” and said he is optimistic that he and Modi can reach “a good, even great deal” for both sides.

Modi also struck an optimistic note about a potential trade agreement, saying ties were expanding in spheres ranging from defense, the energy sector and information technology, and that a resurgent India would present new opportunities for the U.S.

Donald Trump, Narendra Modi
President Donald Trump, with first lady Melania Trump, pause as they tour the Taj Mahal. VOA

Calling the two countries “natural partners,” Modi said they can help bring peace, progress and security not just in the Indo Pacific region, but in the entire world.

“We are inspired by a long-term vision, not just short term considerations,” Modi said.

Modi hailed President Trump’s visit saying it marks a new chapter between the two countries. “India-U.S. relations are no longer just another partnership. It is a far greater and closer relationship,” the Indian leader said.

“There is so much that we share, shared values and ideas, shared spirit of enterprise and innovation, shared opportunities and challenges, shared hopes and aspirations,” according to Modi.

Trump began his address by uttering the Indian greeting “Namaste,” and said that India “will always hold a special place in our hearts.”

“America loves India.  America respects India.  And America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people,” Trump said.

He celebrated India as a successful democracy, and said both countries are committed to working together to fight terrorism.

“Our borders will always be closed to terrorists and terrorism and all forms of extremism,” Trump said.

Trump’s visit began with a red carpet-welcome at the airport in Ahmedabad, in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.  Thousands of people then cheered along a motorcade route as Trump and Modi traveled a short distance to a stop at Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram.

Pre-trip beautification effort

Donald Trump, Narendra Modi
U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive at the new Motera cricket stadium. VOA

A small army of workers was deployed ahead of Trump’s visit to Ahmedabad to build a 400-meter-long wall along the motorcade route to block the view of where poor people live. The hurried beautification project also includes the placement of about 150,000 flowerpots.

After the stadium event in Ahmedabad and before heading to New Delhi, the president and first lady Melania Trump made a visit to the country’s most famous tourist attraction – the Taj Mahal – where they were given a tour of the site.

Indian media reported Agra will be on lockdown for the visit, although there is concern about controlling the menacing monkeys roaming the grounds of the 17th-century Mughal marble mausoleum.

“The forest department has been requested to ensure that the monkeys stay away from the Taj during Donald Trump’s visit,” Archaeological Survey of India Superintending Archaeologist Vasant Kumar Swarnkar was quoted telling India Today.

While Trump expressed his optimism for a trade deal, he said last week he was “saving the big deal for later on.”

There is mutual agreement on dozens of elements for the pact, but several contentious sectors are unresolved, including medical devices, according to sources close to the talks.

“Whether or not there will be an announcement on a trade package is, really, wholly dependent upon what the Indians are prepared to do,” a senior administration official told reporters on Friday. “That said, we have a number of significant commercial deals, which are of great significance that we’re very pleased to announce in a number of key sectors.”

Indian officials are said to be perplexed that U.S. officials halted trade negotiations just prior to the Trump visit, expressing a view that Washington pursued brinkmanship that failed in the face of a more patient India, which is the world’s fifth biggest economy.

“There’s no great hurry here” to finalize a trade pact, retired veteran senior Indian diplomat T.P. Sreenivasan in India told VOA.

“I was personally a little bit surprised that the two sides weren’t able to get this deal done,” Jeff Smith, South Asia research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said.

Donald Trump, Narendra Modi
U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave as they depart after a “Namaste Trump,” event. VOA

Bilateral talks

In India’s capital, bilateral talks are to focus on contemporary concerns.

Indian officials could raise Trump’s hard line on immigration.

“They view the immigration issue — whether it is offering visas to students or the H-1B highly skilled visas or the green card issue — as becoming worse in the last four years,” Pande told VOA.

It is uncertain whether Trump will discuss the issue of Kashmir.

Six months after Modi ended Kashmir’s special status under India’s constitution, local politicians there remain detained and internet service is restricted.

Trump “is not always very thoughtful when he talks about such issues, particularly Kashmir. So that’s a bee in his bonnet and it’s going to come up in some form,” Sreenivasan, a former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, predicted.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for Trump to help resolve the dispute between the two nuclear-armed neighbors over Kashmir, something the U.S. president has previously indicated he is willing to do. But Modi has strongly rebuffed offers from third parties to mediate.

Indian officials are apprehensive about Trump commenting on the Kashmir issue during the visit.

“He might say that ‘I’m a great deal-maker and I can resolve Kashmir.’ But let’s hope he doesn’t,” Pande, of the Hudson Institute, said.

Some members of the U.S. Congress are also expressing concern about Modi’s controversial move to give Indian citizenship to immigrants from three neighboring countries — unless they are Muslims.

Trump, during the India visit, will raise such matters, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration,” according to a senior administration official.

“Attempts to lecture, coerce, punish, intervene in India’s affairs have traditionally not been particularly effective,” Smith, of the Heritage Foundation, said.

Trump will be the fourth consecutive U.S. president to travel to India, continuing the shift in allegiance by Washington to Delhi from India’s arch-rival and neighbor.

Khan, after a recent meeting with Trump during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, said the U.S. president also promised to visit Pakistan soon.

Also Read- Realme Unveils First 5G Smartphone in India Named “X50 Pro 5G”

If “there is no complementary visit to Pakistan or no side agreement on some other way to assuage concerns there, then I think Pakistan will take it as a slight,” said Richard Russow, senior adviser for U.S.-India policy studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (VOA)