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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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President Donald Trump Key Force In Driving The Midterms Elections

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally endorsing the Republican ticket in Erie, Pennsylvania, VOA

Three weeks before a crucial U.S. midterm election, it would be difficult to find much that Democrats and Republicans agree on. Both parties, however, seem to agree on one thing: President Donald Trump will be the key issue in elections that will determine control of Congress for the next two years.

For many voters, the “Trump factor” could be a deciding consideration in this year’s midterms. And as the president campaigns on behalf of Republicans around the country, he is quick to remind his supporters that he has a huge personal stake in the outcome on Nov. 6.

“All of this extraordinary progress is at stake,” Trump told a recent rally in Southaven, Mississippi. “I’m not on the ballot. But in a certain way, I am on the ballot. So please, go out and vote. Go out and vote.”

Motivating Democrats

As much as Trump motivates his core supporters, he also energizes critics like Jenny Heinz, who helped organize a recent anti-Trump rally in New York City.

“There is an active resistance to this president, who is operating as if he is above the law.”

No question, Trump is the central figure in this year’s election, according to American University analyst David Barker.

“Yes, Democrats from the day after the election in 2016 have been waiting for this day, and it is all about Trump,” Barker told VOA. “Trump fully embraces that. He wants it to be all about him.”

Historically, midterm elections have been a mix of local issues, local candidates, and partly a referendum on the sitting president.

This year’s campaign seems to have accelerated a trend whereby midterm congressional elections have increasingly become nationalized.

“It really is now all national, and everyone is kind of looking at this as either a referendum for or against the president and his party,” said George Washington University expert Lara Brown.

Trump
supporters of President Donald Trump, wearing Mike Braun for Congress shirts, cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. VOA

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of voters in both parties said a congressional candidate who shares their view of Trump is an important consideration as they assess the coming midterms.

Seizing the spotlight

Unlike some presidents who have tried to resist the idea that the midterms are a presidential referendum, Trump has willingly embraced it.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon told Associated Press Television that he favors the approach.

“I think if you make this a national referendum and nationalize this election on the success of President Trump’s program, it is a clear winner, and I think the Democrats get crushed.”

Others are skeptical, including former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

“All right, fine. You want it to be about you? Well, every candidate on the ballot now has to account for your behavior, has to account for your tweets,” said Steele, a recent guest on VOA’s Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren.

Climate Change, Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. VOA

Trump hopes to boost Republican turnout in November; but, Democrats argue he is likely to be just as effective in spurring their voters to the polls.

Maryland Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger also spoke on Plugged In.

“When all you do is care about yourself and not about people, not about what they need – like your seniors needing medical care. And you just want to look good and knock them out (politically), which is happening, this is hurting. And this is why, I think, a lot of people will come out (to vote).”

Tending the base

Trump has been aggressive on the campaign trail courting his base, especially in Republican-leaning states where many of this year’s closer Senate races are taking place.

“They are focusing on their base, and they are trying to make sure that they are going to show up and vote. And it could make some difference in close midterm elections,” said University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato.

Trump, USA
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, . VOA

Some Republicans have urged Trump to try and broaden his appeal beyond his base during campaign visits this year.

But Gallup pollster Frank Newport said the president has limited options.

Also Read: Obama On Why Its Important To Vote In This Midterm Elections

“He has kind of given up on attempting to broaden his appeal, it looks like. It fits more with his style,” said Newport. “He has, as we all know, a very combative style. He likes to have enemies because that gives him somebody to fight against. So, it would be hard for a president like Trump anyway to try and broaden his appeal.”

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters, and the midterm results could determine the future of his presidency. (VOA)