Iran Military 19
Iran has deployed a Russian-made S-300 air defense system around its underground Fordo nuclear facility, state TV reported. Video footage posted late Sunday on state TV’s website showed trucks arriving at the site and missile launchers being aimed skyward. It did not say whether the system was fully operational.
Iran has long relied on Latin America to evade Western sanctions, including, critically, on ballistic missiles technology. Now sanctions are gone and Iran’s missile activity no longer banned, but Tehran continues to use America’s backyard to develop long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Dangerous confrontations between Iranian and American warships in the Persian Gulf are up more than 50 percent in 2016 compared with this time last year, according to a U.S. defense official – despite the highly touted nuclear accord, as well as a recent $1.7 billion U.S. payment to Tehran.
President Obama on Friday criticized Iranian leaders for undermining the “spirit” of last years historic nuclear agreement, even as they stick to the “letter” of the pact. In comments following the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, Obama denied speculation that the United States would ease rules preventing dollars from being used in financial transactions with Iran, in order to boost the country’s engagement with the rest of the world.
Iran’s supreme leader declared the Islamic Republic must advance its missile capabilities while pursuing diplomacy to gain leverage in dealing with world powers – giving a nod to both hardline and moderate factions in the country. Khamenei said the situation calls for “both missile and talk” and the country “must use all means” to advance its interests.
Iran’s release of 10 United States Navy sailors on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after they were detained on the Persian Gulf, is being hailed in both countries as a sign that their relations have evolved since the signing of the nuclear accord last summer. Secretary of State John Kerry thanked the Iranians “for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter” and suggested in a statement that the quick resolution of the issue was a product of the nearly daily back-and-forth that now takes place between Washington and Tehran, after three decades of hostility and stony silence.
Iran’s president denounced the United States on Thursday for suggesting the possibility of new sanctions over Iranian missiles, and he ordered his Defense Ministry to respond by swiftly building more of them. Hours after circulating a draft of proposed sanctions on Wednesday, however, the White House did not provide a timetable or even say that they would be put into effect.
Iran has withdrawn most of the Revolutionary Guards fighters it deployed to Syria three months ago, Israeli security officials told The Times of Israel. The decision to withdraw the forces was likely made due to the rising number of casualties among Iranian soldiers fighting in Syria and the subsequent growing public outcry back home
Iran violated a United Nations Security Council resolution in October by test-firing a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, a team of sanctions monitors said, leading to calls in the United States for more sanctions on Tehran. The White House said it would not rule out additional steps against Iran over the test of the medium-range Emad rocket, on the same day that the global nuclear watchdog concluded its 12-year investigation into Iran’s nuclear activities.
The Obama administration is facing another difficult choice with Iran: As Tehran takes apart much of its nuclear infrastructure to win sanctions relief, how vocally should the White House condemn Iranian violations of United Nations resolutions on other issues? Before the Iran nuclear accord, the White House regularly condemned Tehran’s tests. But now, officials say privately, they believe that the tests may be the work of angry elements in Iran’s military who hope to derail the nuclear accord and preserve their atomic infrastructure.