Iran MPs boost mis­sile funds in re­sponse to US sanc­tions

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Iran’s par­lia­ment yes­ter­day ap­proved more than half a bil­lion dol­lars in fund­ing for the coun­try’s mis­sile pro­gram and for­eign op­er­a­tions of the elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards in re­sponse to US sanc­tions. The move fol­lows a spike in ten­sions be­tween Tehran and Wash­ing­ton since US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump took of­fice in Jan­uary with a vow to get tough on the Is­lamic repub­lic.

“The Amer­i­cans should know that this was our first ac­tion,” said par­lia­ment speaker Ali Lar­i­jani, after an­nounc­ing over­whelm­ing sup­port for a pack­age “to con­front ter­ror­ist and ad­ven­tur­ist ac­tions by the United States in the re­gion”. After the vote re­sult was an­nounced, law­mak­ers shouted: “Death to America.” A to­tal of 240 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans out of 244 present voted for the bill.

It man­dates the gov­ern­ment to al­lo­cate an ad­di­tional $260 mil­lion for mis­sile de­vel­op­ment and the same amount to the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards’ for­eign op­er­a­tions wing, the Quds Force, state news agency IRNA said. The Quds Force leads Iran’s mil­i­tary role in Syria and Iraq. The vote came after the United States im­posed fresh US sanc­tions against Iran in July, tar­get­ing its mis­sile pro­gram. Tehran says the mea­sures vi­o­late a 2015 deal with world pow­ers that eased sanc­tions in ex­change for curbs on its nu­clear pro­gram. Trump re­peat­edly threat­ened to tear up what he once called “the worst deal ever”, but last month he backed away from a key cam­paign prom­ise to with­draw from the nu­clear agree­ment.

‘Hos­tile US ac­tions’

Iran’s Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Ab­bas Araghchi said the bill passed yes­ter­day had the sup­port of the gov­ern­ment. The bill is “very smart par­tic­u­larly be­cause it doesn’t vi­o­late the nu­clear deal and doesn’t al­low the other side to make ex­cuses,” he added. “Iran boasts po­ten­tial and ac­tual op­tions to con­front hos­tile US ac­tions”. The United States has had no diplo­matic ties with the Iran since 1980, and Trump has halted the di­rect con­tacts ini­ti­ated by his pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama.

A string of close en­coun­ters be­tween US ships and Ira­nian ves­sels in the Gulf in re­cent months has added to the ten­sions be­tween the two coun­tries. Araghchi said that the Ira­nian bill was a far-reach­ing re­sponse to the mea­sures passed by US Congress that Ira­nian me­dia have called the “mother of sanc­tions” be­cause they sum up all ex­ist­ing anti-Iran sanc­tions.

The bill sends “a di­rect mes­sage of Iran’s dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the vi­o­la­tions of the deal by the other side while avoid­ing breach­ing it in the process,” Foad Izadi, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics at Tehran Uni­ver­sity, told AFP. By defin­ing the cost to the US of vi­o­lat­ing the nu­clear deal, the Ira­nian bill would help to safe­guard the agree­ment, he said. “When the other side doesn’t pay any price, it breaches the deal with no ob­sta­cles, but it is hoped that if they are to pay the costs, at least they cal­cu­late them and re­duce their vi­o­la­tions.”

— AP

TEHRAN: This photo taken on Sun­day, Feb 19, 2017, shows an open ses­sion of the Ira­nian par­lia­ment.

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