US officials express concerns on missile launches

US officials state they will take action if it is confirmed that Iran used missiles violating nuclear agreement

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

A Qadr H long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile is fired by Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, during a maneuver, in an undisclosed location in Iran, Wednesday, March 9, 2016.

US Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the United States would take action against Iran if the long-range ballistic missile tests that Tehran claimed to carry out were confirmed.

"I want to reiterate, as I know people still doubt, if in fact they break the [nuclear] deal, we will act," Biden said during a visit to Israel.

The launch of two Qadr missiles were shown on Iranian state television from northern Iran, which the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said hit targets 1,400km away.

"All their conventional activity outside the deal, which is still beyond the deal, we will and are attempting to act wherever we can find it." Biden added.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also raised his concerns on the matter on Wednesday when he spoke with Iran's foreign minister about the missiles that Tehran said were designed to be able to hit Israel, a State Department spokesman said.

"We condemn all threats to Israel and we'll stand with Israel to help it to defend itself against all kinds of threats," said State Department spokesman John Kirby.

Iranian agencies alleged one missile was stamped with graffiti stating Israel should be wiped from the pages of history, yet the claim had not been confirmed on any of the photographs.

Kirby did not confirm the missile, nor the graffiti. He repeated a statement from Tuesday that said the US will look at the reports and respond appropriately.

He also said the US has invested more than $3 billion on an Iron Dome and other missile defence systems to help protect Israel.

Meanwhile, US Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton called for sanctions against Iran and said she was “deeply concerned” by the tests.

Although it had not yet been confirmed, Clinton said that "Iran should face sanctions for these activities and the international community must demonstrate that Iran's threats toward Israel will not be tolerated.”

The White House addressed that it is aware of and reviewing reports of the Iranian tests, and would determine an appropriate response.

"We know that Iran is in a season of carrying out a number of military activities, and so it certainly would not be a surprise if there are additional launches over the next several days," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Zionists in mind

Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh IRGC allegedly said that "the reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 km is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance,” quoted by a news agency run by University students.

Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon, told a Radio channel that Iran’s hostility had not changed since implementing a nuclear deal with world powers in January.

"To my regret there are some in the West who are misled by the honeyed words of part of the Iranian leadership while the other part continues to procure equipment and weaponry, to arm terrorist groups," Yaalon said.

Iran is making a mockery of President Obama’s vow to confront Iran’s dangerous and illicit acts, Republican Chairman of US House of Representatives Ed Royce said.

He urged Obama to aggressively enforce sanctions against Iran’s missile programme.

Hajizadeh said, on state television, “We will develop our missile programme, despite sanctions and pressure our enemies apply.”

The IRGC maintains dozens of short and medium-range ballistic missiles. It says they are solely for defensive use with conventional, non-nuclear warheads.

A UN Security Council resolution adopted one week after the Iran nuclear deal was signed, endorsed the agreement and has provisions that continue to be used to disrupt Tehran’s missile related activities.

The resolution demands Iran not to undertake ballistic missile activity, including test launches.

Tehran has denied accusations of provocation by the US, citing the long history of US intervention in the Middle East and its own right to self-defence.

TRTWorld and agencies