A top Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander says Tehran is conducting missile and radar tests Saturday. The drill comes a day after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Iran for a ballistic missile test it conducted last week.
Iranian state TV reported that the country’s Revolutionary Guard air force was conducting air defense exercises Saturday, including missile and radar tests over a 35,000-square kilometer area in the northern province of Semnan.
The TV channel added that Iran’s vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, denounced recent U.S. accusations against Tehran, insisting the Iranian people “do not take them seriously.” U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis called Iran the “single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” while visiting Tokyo on Friday.
Mattis stressed, however, the U.S. was not contemplating raising the number of U.S. troops in the Middle East, for the moment, to respond to what he called Iran’s “misbehavior.”
The U.S. has, nevertheless, deployed the warship USS Cole in the strategic Bab al-Mandeb strait, off the coast of Yemen, in response to a recent attack on a Saudi naval vessel, which left several crew members dead. The USS Cole itself was attacked by al-Qaida militants in 2000.
Houthie support alleged
Saudi military spokesman General Ahmed Assiri claimed earlier this week that Iran has military advisors helping Yemen’s Houthi militia fighters in various parts of Yemen.
Assiri said he would not give specific details about Iran’s activities inside Yemen, but he accused Tehran of being responsible for all the wars and instability in the region.
Saudi analyst Ali Touati did, however, in an interview with al-Arabiya TV, accuse Iran of helping Houthi forces in the Red Sea port of Hodeida, which attacked the Saudi naval vessel. He also accused Iranian advisors of helping the Houthi forces conduct a series of missile attacks that have hit inside Saudi territory. One such missile struck a U.N. compound Monday in the Saudi town of Dhahran al-Janoubi.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif told state TV that his country would never initiate a conflict, though, and was relying on its own resources to defend itself.
“We will never, repeat, never use [missiles] … against anybody, unless in self-defense and be sure that nobody has the guts again, to attack us.”
U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn told journalists Wednesday the U.S. believes that Iran’s recent missile tests breached U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted in July 2015, after a nuclear deal between Tehran and the P5+1 group of nations.