PHOTO: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “We will never start a war”
>UPDATE 1545 GMT: 1st Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri says recent statements by Trump Administration officials are “threadbare” accusations trying to scare away foriegn investors.
Jahangiri decared, “The Iranian nation and authorities do not attach the least value to these remarks.”
He said that, had it not been for Iran, Syria would have fallen to the Islamic State: “Arab countries would have been encircled by Daesh, and no one would have known what Al Qa’eda would be doing in Afghanistan.”
A Revolutionary Guards commander has used military exercises to warn, “If the enemy sets a foot wrong, our roaring missiles will pour on them.”
The commander of the Guards’ Aerospace Division, Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, said on the sidelines of the “Defenders of the Velayat Skies” drills in northern Iran, “Matters such as nuclear capability and know-how, missile might, and similar issues are just a pretext for their animosity towards the Islamic establishment and the Iranian nation.”
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Iran’s officials again stood by their ballistic missile tests on Friday, as the US Treasury imposed sanctions on another 25 Iranian individuals and companies.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Twitter Washington’s announcement, “Iran is not under threat because it derives its security from its people. We will never start a war, but we can only rely on our own means of defense.”
We will never use our weapons against anyone, except in self-defense. Let us see if any of those who complain can make the same statement. pic.twitter.com/xwGquvqLvb
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 3, 2017
The Tehran Friday Prayer leader, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, told worshippers that Iran’s latest test — revealed by US and Israeli officials to the media on Monday and finally confirmed by Tehran on Wednesday — was a “show of power” as Iran must “arm itself in this world of wolves”.
Another Friday Prayer leader, Ardabil’s Ayatollah Hassan Ameli, said Iran will respond with national unity to “these threats”: “Our nation has a special characteristic… Whenever it feels that the enemy is approaching and plotting, it comes forth unified and shows the power of the nation and the revolution to the world.”
The latest US sanctions specify individuals and entities connected with the tests and with the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, accused of supporting “terrorism” through its interventions and links with groups in other countries.
The Trump Administration signalled its harder line on Wednesday when National Security Advisor Michael Flynn told a press conference, “We are officially putting Iran on notice.” Flynn, a reputed hardliner seeking aggressive action against Iran, cited the ballistic missile launches and also claimed Iran was behind an attack on a Saudi frigate by Yemen’s Houthi movement.
The US says Iran’s missile tests violate a UN resolution from July 2015, accompanying the nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 Powers, which called on Tehran to refrain from any development of ballistic missiles which are nuclear-capable. Iran says the missiles cannot carry nuclear warheads.
Despite Flynn’s tough words, the Trump Administration has not indicated that the US will leave the nuclear deal. However, Washington could take further economic measures, bolstering restrictions which have remained in place despite implementation of the agreement since January 2016.
Trump’s officials have said “all options are on the table” but there is no sign of a military response. Still, Mohsen Rezaei, the Secretary of the Expediency Council, warned via Instagram on Friday that Trump is encouraging Saudi Arabia and Israel to “attack Iran”.
The Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, sent another message: “We are adding to our numbers of missiles, warships, and rocket launchers every day. The sky, the earth, and the sea are under the control of this nation.”