Iran continues missile threats despite Trump’s stern warnings

The Trump administration will try to convince its allies to seek stronger rules to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Danger zone. Iranian President Hassan Rohani (2nd R) speaks at a military parade marking the 37th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran, on September 22. (Reuters)


2017/09/24 Issue: 124 Page: 1


The Arab Weekly
Thomas Seibert



Washington- US President Donald Trump raised a range of Middle Eastern issues at the UN General As­sembly, firing off stern warnings against Iran, trying to find common ground with Turkey and committing himself to finding peace between the Israelis and the Pales­tinians.

Trump used his first UN speech to signal his frustration with the in­ternational agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities. In an address marked by his threat to “complete­ly destroy” North Korea following Pyongyang’s missile tests and warn­ing of a nuclear attack against the United States, Trump named Iran as another “rogue state” that had to be stopped.

The US president later said he had already made up his mind about whether to end the United States’ participation in the international nu­clear deal with Iran. He did not make his decision public but, speaking only weeks before his administration must tell the US Congress whether Iran is complying with the treaty, he strongly hinted that he did not accept the agreement in its present form.

News reports said the Trump ad­ministration would try to convince its allies to seek stronger rules to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

US Ambassador to the United Na­tions Nikki Haley said in early Sep­tember the certification decision will be tied to Iran’s overall behaviour. “We must consider the whole jigsaw puzzle, not just one of its pieces,” she said, adding that “should the president decide to decertify, he has grounds to stand on.”

Iranian President Hassan Rohani responded by saying his country would further strengthen its missile programme but Israel applauded Trump’s hard-line stance. “In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Twitter.

Iran had an additional response of defiance when, on September 22, it exhibited for the first time a mis­sile capable of reaching almost any target in the Middle East. The Khor­ramshahr, which was displayed dur­ing a military parade in Tehran, has a range of 2,000km.

“We will strengthen our defence and military capability, whether you want it or not,” Rohani said.

He also said Tehran would support the “oppressed people of Yemen, Syria and Palestine,” a reference to its role in proxy wars in the Middle East.

Trump was not alone in denounc­ing Iran’s behaviour. Talking about the Iran nuclear deal, French Presi­dent Emmanuel Macron said: “Is this agreement enough? No. It is not, given the evolution of the regional situation and increasing pressure that Iran is exerting on the region and given increased activity by Iran on the ballistic level since the ac­cord.”

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Ab­dullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said Iran “violates the letter and spirit” of the 2015 agreement and continues “to exploit the crises in the Arab world to undermine regional security by inciting and fuelling conflict” by supporting terrorist activities in the Middle East.

Trump’s bilateral meetings with 14 foreign leaders on the sidelines of the General Assembly included talks with key Middle Eastern play­ers, from Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al- Thani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The US president sounded upbeat about prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, even though there was no movement on any of the many sticking points be­tween the two sides.

Still, Trump expressed optimism. “I think we have a very, very good chance and I certainly will de­vote everything within my heart and within my soul to get that deal made,” Trump said after meeting with Abbas. The Palestinian leader said Trump was serious about reach­ing a “deal of the century.”

Trump used his meeting with Sisi to iron out tensions between Wash­ington and Cairo over the recent de­cision by the United States to deny or delay almost $200 million in aid over human rights concerns. The US gov­ernment would “certainly consider” restarting the assistance, Trump said. There was “a lot of progress” in relations between the two countries.


Thomas Seibert is an Arab Weekly contributor in Istanbul.


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