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'Imperative' U.S. Lead Global Pushback for Iran Missile Tests, Senators Tell Trump

WASHINGTON — Twenty senators from both sides of the aisle have asked President Trump to not only stop Iran from developing ballistic missiles in violation of the UN Security Council, but to lead the international community in doing so.

Today the Treasury Department announced 13 people and 12 companies have been added to the Iran sanctions list. “Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!” Trump tweeted.

National Security Advisor Mike Flynn said Wednesday that Iran is “on notice” after ballistic missile tests and an attack by Iran-backed Houthi rebels on a Saudi vessel, though the White House did not detail what that notice meant.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at Thursday’s briefing that Iran “has violated the joint resolution, that Iran’s additional hostile actions that it took against our Navy vessel are ones that we are very clear are not going to sit by and take.”

It was unclear if Spicer was referring to the Houthi suicide attack on a Saudi navy patrol with three suicide boats near the Yemeni port of Hodeidah on Monday, killing two Saudi sailors, or Iran’s seizure of 10 U.S. sailors from patrol boats in January 2016.

“I think that we will have further updates for you on those additional actions,” Spicer added. “But clearly, we wanted to make sure that Iran understood that they are on notice this is not going unresponded to.”

At Friday prayers today in Tehran, Ayatollah Seyed Ahmad Khatami said missile testing “shows our might” as “we are living in the world of wolves — wolves like the arrogant U.S. administration.”

Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency also reported Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, vowed “we will not take permission from any country or international organization to develop our conventional defense power and we will confront any foreign interference in the defense affairs, including the Islamic Republic of Iran’s missile power.”

In a Thursday letter to Trump, senators noted that “if it is confirmed that Iran tested a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon, Iran will have again violated both the letter and spirit of its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

“Iranian leaders must feel sufficient pressure to cease deeply destabilizing activities, from sponsoring terrorist groups to continued testing of ballistic missiles,” the letter continued. “Full enforcement of existing sanctions and the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program are necessary. Moreover, we are hopeful that the international community can unite around the common cause of countering Iran’s troubling actions.”

“We look forward to supporting your Administration’s efforts to hold Iran accountable, and note the positive step taken by the United States calling for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. It is imperative that the United States lead the international community in enforcing UN Security Council resolution 2231.”

The letter was signed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.), as well as Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

Corker tweeted that today’s announcement of additional sanctions makes it “clear that it is a new day in U.S.-Iran relations and that we will no longer tolerate Iran’s destabilizing behavior.”

“I’m glad the administration is taking long-overdue steps to hold the regime accountable,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said. “I look forward to working with the administration to build on these designations, push back against Iran’s destructive policies, and promote stability in the Middle East.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran is “unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people.”

“We’ll never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defense,” Zarif wrote. “We will never use our weapons against anyone, except in self-defense. Let us see if any of those who complain can make the same statement.”

Iran’s ballistic missile test — not the first since the nuclear agreement went into effect, but the first under the Trump administration — was medium-range, making it 630 miles before exploding. Tehran insisted the test did not violate the nuclear deal or UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

The regime said Thursday that the Trump’s administration’s threats were “useless” and coming from “an inexperienced person.”