The PJ Tatler

Iran Commander: 'Our Fingers Are on the Triggers'

As a clash between the administration and Congress is brewing over confronting Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests, the commander of the Iranian army’s ground forces warned today in western Iran that “our fingers are on the triggers to confront the enemies’ threats.”

Meanwhile, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force promised similar crushing blows to perceived enemies of the Islamic Republic.

IRGC Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said a “new generation” of Iranian missiles would be unveiled next year, while their current missile capabilities have “been designed to safeguard the country’s security and regional tranquility; it does not allow our enemies to make the slightest aggression and means a boost in the Armed Forces’ capability to defend the country’s borders.”

“The enemies of the Islamic Revolution know that any aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s borders will receive a tough response from Iran … which will make the enemies regret,” Hajizadeh said in Qazvin in northern Iran, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

According to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, the Army’s Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan is about to launch wargames that he promised last month would feature “a series of domestically produced and foreign made weapons that have been modified by the army.”

“The message of these wargames to the Iranian nation is that the country’s Armed Forces are in a state of full-preparedness,” Pourdastan said today, according to IRNA.

Members of Congress have been increasingly putting pressure on the Obama administration this week to properly address Iran’s ballistic missile tests last weekend — and put the UN Security Council resolution violation in the context of overall relations with Iran deal.

But the White House and State Department, while acknowledging likely violations, have said the tests have nothing to do with the nuclear deal.

“We have seen Iran on — almost serially violate the international community’s concerns about their ballistic missile program, and the UN Security Council resolution actually gives the international community some tools to interdict some equipment and material that could be used to advance their ballistic missile program and gives us the ability to work in concert with our partners around the world to engage a strategy to try to disrupt continued progress of their ballistic missile program,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said this week. But, he insisted, it’s “altogether separate from the nuclear agreement that Iran reached with the rest of the world.”

Today in a joint press conference with the South Korean president, President Obama said that Iran “has often violated some of the prohibitions surrounding missile testing and our position with respect to U.N. resolutions, prohibitions and potential sanctions are unchanged with respect to their missile programs.”

“And this is something I made very clear during the debate around the Iran nuclear deal. The Iran nuclear deal solves a specific problem, which is making sure that they don’t possess a nuclear weapon. And it’s our best way to do that,” Obama said. “It does not fully resolve the wide range of issues where we’ve got a big difference, and so we are going to have to continue to put pressure on them through the international community and where we have bilateral channels through bilateral channels to indicate to them that there are costs to bad behavior in the region and around the world.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) stressed today that “the U.S. commitment to nonproliferation is meaningless if Iran can violate its international commitments without consequences.”

“This serious violation requires immediate action by the administration to deter Iran’s behavior,” he said.

Corker said that since Congress “forced the administration to accept rigorous congressional oversight through the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (Corker-Cardin), the president must provide detailed information every six months on Iran’s ballistic missile program and any illicit attempts to advance it.”

“This information coupled with expedited procedures for reimposing sanctions after a material breach by Iran gives Congress continued leverage to hold Tehran accountable.”

Corker and Foreign Relations Committee members Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) wrote Secretary of State John Kerry to ask for official determination on the UNSC violations.

“We believe this could potentially be the sixth such violation of this resolution by Iran since it was adopted in 2010 and it is especially troubling that this test occurred on the heels of the Iranian Parliament’s approval of the JCPOA,” the senators wrote.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) wrote a letter to Obama this week, noting “it is clear that Tehran is testing United States resolve in the wake of the nuclear agreement.”

“This destabilizing test must be met with immediate action, both unilaterally and at the UN Security Council, to make clear that Iran remains prohibited from developing this dangerous technology and uphold your administration’s pledge before Congress to counter Iran’s ballistic missile program,” Royce wrote.

“Your administration once understood the importance of addressing ballistic missiles in the nuclear agreement… Yet after Iran’s Supreme Leader called the push for restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missiles ‘a stupid, idiotic expectation,’ U.S. negotiators unwisely dropped their demand that the agreement prohibit Iran from developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. This caught many observers by surprise, with the negative consequences of this last minute concession becoming obvious all too soon after the nuclear agreement was finalized.”

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters this week that the administration will “obviously raise this at the UNSC as we have done in previous launches.”

As the Iran deal was still working its way through a divided Congress, the IRGC’s top commander in Tehran province, Brigadier General Mohsen Kazzemeini told operating units undergoing drills in the capital that “they (the US and the Zionists) should know that the Islamic Revolution will continue enhancing its preparedness until it overthrows Israel and liberates Palestine.”

“And we will continue defending not just our own country, but also all the oppressed people of the world, specially those countries that are standing on the forefront of confrontation with the Zionists,” Kazzemeini said.