Escalating tensions between Iran and Washington
News 6 Feb 2017

Escalating tensions between Iran and Washington


Just two weeks after Obama stepped down as president, the Trump administration has announced new sanctions against Iran in reponse to a missile test last Sunday. In a statement on the White House website on Friday, the U.S. announced fresh sanctions against Iran. The list included 13 Iranians and 12 companies, some of which are based in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and China, to its sanctions list. Acting director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control John Smith said "Iran's continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile programme poses a threat to the region, to our partners worldwide, and to the United States".  

The Iranian missile test saw a medium range ballistic missile launched from a site near Semnana which exploded after 1010km. The last time such a test was carried out was in July 2016. The test has drawn wide spread condemnation, the European Union called on Tehran to "refrain from activities which deepen mistrust". 

Javad Zarif, Iranian Minister for Foreign Affairs however said that "the missile issue is not part of the nuclear deal " and that his country's missiles are "not designed for the capability of carrying a nuclear warhead". The French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault who was visiting Iran at the time expressed his concern that the test was 'contrary to the spirit of the Security Council Resolution', but also added that "we harbour real concerns about the US administration's attitude towards this agreement."

Relations between the US and Iran look unlikely to cool down. Last week retaliatory action from Iran saw a US wrestling team banned from competing in the Freestyle World Cup competition in retaliation for an executive order by Trump banning visas for Iranians. An official spat on twitter commenced when President Trump tweeted that "Iran is playing with fire" further saying that  "they don't appreciate how "kind" President Obama was to them. Not me!". In a more measured repsonse Zarif responded “Iran unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people. We'll never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defense”. This relationship looks to be one that will continue to draw criticism and battlelines. 

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