Sunday 19 November 2017

Iranians 'playing with fire', says Trump after missile test

Adviser Steve Bannon, left, watches as President Trump greets Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, before a policy forum at the White House yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Adviser Steve Bannon, left, watches as President Trump greets Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, before a policy forum at the White House yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

Nick Allen in Washington

President Donald Trump's administration imposed sanctions on 25 individuals and companies yesterday in response to Iran's recent ballistic missile test, ratcheting up tensions with Tehran.

Those targeted included Lebanese, Emirati and Chinese operatives involved in procuring missile technology for Iran and providing support to its Revolutionary Guard, the US Treasury said.

They were barred from doing any business in the US or with American citizens.

The move came as news emerged that up to 60,000 people have had visas to visit the US revoked since Mr Trump banned visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The president said: "Iran is playing with fire. They don't appreciate how 'kind' President Obama was to them. Not me."

Iran tested a medium-range ballistic last week, which exploded after travelling 1,000km.

A senior US official said the sanctions were "an initial step".

A US Navy destroyer was also sent to patrol off the coast of Yemen to protect waterways from Houthi militia aligned with Iran.

The USS Cole arrived near the Bab al-Mandab Strait, where it will carry out patrols. In 2000 the vessel was attacked when al-Qa'ida bombers steered a boat full of explosives into it while it refuelled in Aden, killing 17 sailors.

The US treasury department said: "Today's action is part of ongoing efforts to counter Iranian malign activity abroad.

"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 sanctions did not affect the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers, of which Mr Trump has been highly critical. He has called it the "worst deal ever negotiated" and vowed to "rip it up".Imposing sanctions on Iran for missile tests and sponsorship of terrorism does not violate that agreement. However, Iran claims it has the right to conduct ballistic missile tests because its nuclear programme has been sharply curtailed.

The country has an arsenal of thousands of short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel, other US allies and bases.

Officials said people and companies on the sanctions list had been drawn up before Mr Obama left office, but the announcement was seen as a warning shot by the new administration.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said: "They were in the pipeline. These kinds of sanctions don't happen quickly, but the timing was clearly in reaction to what we've seen over the last couple days."

Mark Dubowitz, an Iran adviser to Mr Trump, said: "This is a sign of coming attractions. It represents a first step in the administration's escalation against Iran's missile programme and support for terrorism."

Iran said it was "unmoved" and called the sanctions "provocative".

Telegraph.co.uk

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