TEHRAN: Iran on Thursday rejected a warning from President Donald Trump over its latest missile test as unfounded and provocative, reflecting growing tensions between Tehran and the new US administration.
“Claims made by US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor are baseless, repetitive and provocative,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
Trump himself tweeted on Thursday that the Islamic republic was now formally “on notice” after Sunday’s missile test.
“Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” Trump tweeted, echoing similar comments by National Security Advisor Michael Flynn on Wednesday.
As tensions simmered, US media reported that the Trump administration is poised to levy more sanctions on Iran. CNN said they are likely to be levied on individuals or entities linked to Iran’s missile program.
Trump was referring to the nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers that took effect in January 2016, lifting international sanctions in return for curbs on Iran’s atomic programme.
Asked by a reporter if military action was a possibility, Trump said “nothing is off the table”.
On Wednesday, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn insisted the missile test was in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. That calls on Iran not to test missiles capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.
Iran has confirmed that it had tested a ballistic missile, but denied that it violated the terms of the nuclear deal.
Tehran says its missiles do not breach UN resolutions because they are for defence purposes only and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.
The US warning drew a defiant response from Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.
“The number of Iranian missiles, warships and defence missile launchers is growing every day, and the sky, land and sea is under the control of this nation,” said General Hossein Salami, the number two in the Guards which is in charge of weapons programmes.
“This is not a land where an outsider can set foot with sinister intentions,” he said.
The White House has not amplified on its warning over the missile test, apart from Trump not ruling out any options. And it remains to be seen if Washington will push for new sanctions.
The measures reported by CNN are likely to replicate actions taken by Barack Obama’s administration, which targeted firms and the Revolutionary Guard’s missile command.
Ghasemi said that the US warning came at a time when “the efforts by the Islamic Republic of Iran in fighting terrorist groups in the Middle East are known to all”.
“It is regrettable that the US administration, instead of appreciating the nation of Iran for its continued fight against terrorism, is in practice aiding terrorist groups by repeating baseless claims and adopting unwise measures.”
Ghasemi singled out for criticism the travel ban slapped by Trump on seven mainly Muslim countries, including Iran.
He also dismissed charges of Iranian meddling in the region, saying Tehran wanted good relations with its neighbours based on “mutual respect and non-interference in countries’ domestic affairs.” AFP