On Wednesday, ratcheting up tension between the United States and Iran, Iran successfully test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile that flew 600 miles.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News, “They continue to engage in malign activity; they continue to build out their missile program; they continue to work on their nuclear systems, and yet they want to tell the world that no, they’re just defensive and they’re just being a normal nation and we all see differently.”
A senior administration commented, “We are aware of reports of a projectile launched from Iran, and have no further comment at this time.”
The Shahab-3 missile flew from southern Iran to a desert near Iran’s capital, Tehran; the nuclear deal which President Trump walked away from did not deal with Iran’s conventional missile program.
Tensions between Iran and the West have been rising steadily for weeks; in mid-June, two tankers, the Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, and according to Commander Sean Kido, mines used in the attack bore “a striking resemblance” to those used by Iran. He said, “The limpet mine that was used in the attack is distinguishable and also strikingly bearing a resemblance to Iranian mines that have already been publicly displayed in Iranian military parades.” The U.S. Navy displayed pieces of debris and a magnet which they believed came from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
A few days later, an American drone was shot down, and the U.S. government said the drone was flying in international waters over the Strait of Hormuz. USA Today reported that Navy Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, stated, “U.S. Central Command can confirm that a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance ISR aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace. Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false.”
A scant few days later, former Iranian Minister of Defense General Hossein Dehghan, currently an advisor for defense affairs to Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, stated that Iran would put America in “the garbage bin of history” if attacked and would eliminate Israel from “the face of the earth.”
In late June, President Trump announced a new executive adding more sanctions against Iran in response to Iran shooting down the U.S. military drone. On July 9, Iran threatened the United States, warning that it would destroy American military bases and aircraft carriers “if they make a mistake.”
Last week the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker and its 23 crew members in the Strait of Hormuz. CNN reported, “Iran has also seized a second tanker, the Liberian-flagged MV Mesdar, according to a US official.” President Trump responded, “So, we’re going to be speaking with the U.K. And this only goes to show what I am saying about Iran. Trouble. Nothing but trouble. And remember this, the ridiculous agreement made by President Obama expires in a very short period of time, it was a short term agreement.”
On Wednesday, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, threatened to shoot down more American drones, asserting that American drones violating Iranian airspace “will receive the same response” as the American drone that was shot down in June.