While fierce debate rages over President Trump’s executive orders on immigration from seven nations with ties to terrorism, including Iran and Syria, the Iranian regime is using this as a distraction while it continues its efforts to keep pushing its extremist actions across the region.
Chief among them was a resumption of ballistic missile test launches in violation of existing restrictions by the U.S. and United Nations. The launch, which took place at a site more than 130 miles east of Tehran, is Iran’s first real test of the Trump administration.
The missile was tracked flying southward 650 miles before exploding when its reentry vehicle failed, according to officials who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on intelligence.
The missile has been tested before, officials said, most recently in July 2016, according to the Los Angeles Times.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Monday that the administration was aware the test took place, but wouldn’t provide additional information.
“We’re looking into that,” he said. “We’re aware that Iran fired that missile. We’re looking into the exact nature of it, and I’ll try to have more for you later.”
Christopher Harmer, a military analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, a nonpartisan public policy group in Washington, said that it’s impossible to know if Tehran conducted the test as a response to the president’s action, but that the test also serves as propaganda.
“Iran is always working on every aspect of its missile program: better guidance, more payload capacity, and better reliability,” he said. “They test often so it’s difficult to say for sure whether this is a response to the travel ban, but the timing is suspect.”
Trump, as a presidential candidate, was deeply critical of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, calling it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
U.N. Resolution 2231, passed shortly after the nuclear deal was signed, calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
The U.N. will now determine whether the launch was a violation at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to be held Tuesday.
Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, condemned Iran for the missile test.
“No longer will Iran be given a pass for its repeated ballistic missile violations, continued support of terrorism, human rights abuses and other hostile activities that threaten international peace and security,” Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, said in a written statement.
President Trump on Sunday spoke with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, a conversation in which the two “agreed on the importance of rigorously enforcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and of addressing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities,” the White House said in a statement.
A ballistic missile launch could potentially fall under “destabilizing regional activities.”
The launch also came a day before Jordan’s King Abdullah arrived in Washington for meetings with Vice President Pence and Defense Secretary Mattis as the administration ramped up meetings with Iran’s neighbors to forge a consensus on dealing with the Iranian regime.
The ballistic missile launch wasn’t the end of Iran’s aggressions as Iran-backed Houthi rebels attacked a Saudi warship in the Red Sea Monday killing two sailors and wounding two others according to Fox News.
The Saudi frigate, Al Madinah, was conducting routine operations in the southern Red Sea when the attack occurred.
In October, U.S. Navy warships came under missile attack by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the same area of the southern Red Sea just north of the Bab al Mandab Strait.
For the first time in history, a U.S. destroyer successfully shot down incoming enemy missiles using SM-2 missiles in the October attack.
Days later Tomahawk cruise missile launched from the USS Nitze destroyed the Houthi radar installations responsible for firing on the U.S. warships.
The Iranian kept up its loud propaganda efforts by issuing official statements saying it would stop using the U.S. dollar in its official statements; an and ultimately futile gesture.
The decision was announced by Central Bank of Iran governor Valiollah Seif during a television interview on the evening of January 29 and, according to the paper, is due to take effect from the start of the new fiscal year on 21 March. It will affect all official financial and foreign exchange reports.
No doubt the move was aimed at making a response to the visa controversy, but if this was the extent of the Iranian regime’s response, it clearly demonstrates how feeble and weak it is in protesting the decision.
It also underscores the fact that the Iranian regime is already excluded from accessing U.S. currency exchanges as part of existing sanctions placed for the regime’s role in supporting terrorism.