News / Middle East

    Iran's Rouhani Calls for Expansion of Ballistic Missile Program

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during the 29th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Dec. 27, 2015.
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during the 29th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Dec. 27, 2015.
    VOA News

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ordered his defense minister to expand Iran's ballistic missile program in response to a U.S. threat to impose new sanctions on that program following Iranian missile tests.

    In a tweet Thursday, Rouhani said a new program will be developed to enhance Iran's missile capabilities, if the U.S. "continues its illegitimate interference with Iran's right to defend itself."

    In response to Rouhani's remarks, a senior U.S. official told VOA the United States has long taken action to counter threats from Iran's missile program and will continue to do so.  He said that includes working closely with U.S. allies in the region to bolster their defenses against such threats.

    The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the planned move, said the sanctions will likely be formally announced this week and include about 12 people and companies in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

    The sanctions would call on U.S. banks to freeze the assets of those on the list and bar individuals and companies in the U.S. from doing business with them, according to the Journal.

    Iran test-fired missiles in October and November. The U.S. and France said the October launch violated a U.N. Security Council resolution banning Iranian development of a ballistic missile. Iran rejected the allegations, saying the sanctions only applied to missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and that their missiles had no such capability.

    This photo released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, claims to show the launching of an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile in an undisclosed location.
    This photo released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, claims to show the launching of an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile in an undisclosed location.

    U.S. experts said the only purpose of the missile would be to deliver a nuclear warhead.

    "We've been looking for some time at options for additional actions related to Iran's ballistic missile program based on our continued concerns about its activities, including the October 10th launch," an Obama administration official said.  "We are considering various aspects related to additional designations, as well as evolving diplomatic work that is consistent with our national security interests."

    Deal violation

    Iran has previously warned that imposing new sanctions would be a violation of the nuclear agreement the country signed in July with the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany.

    Under that deal, Iran is curbing its nuclear activity in response to allegations it was working on nuclear weapons, and in return will get relief from sanctions that have badly hurt its economy.  Those sanctions can be lifted once the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog certifies Iran has taken its required steps, including reducing its stockpile of enriched uranium and the number of centrifuges it has installed.

    Iran has long denied its nuclear program had any military dimension. 

    Iranian Revolutionary Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif also denied Thursday U.S. allegations that Iran test-fired missiles that passed near an American aircraft carrier Saturday in the Strait of Hormuz.

    Sharif called the report "psychological warfare" and said the navy had not conducted any exercises in the past week.

    U.S. military officials said the missiles passed within 1,500 meters of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. The officials, who spoke to Western media under condition of anonymity, said Iran's navy gave a radio announcement before firing the missiles, telling ships to steer clear of the area.

    FILE - A general view shows the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman at an undisclosed position in the Mediterranean Sea.
    FILE - A general view shows the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman at an undisclosed position in the Mediterranean Sea.

     

    Several other ships were also in the region, including the destroyer USS Bulkeley, a French frigate and merchant ships.

    None of the missiles were fired at any of the ships, which did not need to take any evasive actions.

    "While most interactions between Iranian forces and the U.S. Navy are professional, safe and routine, this event was not and runs contrary to efforts to ensure freedom of navigation and maritime safety in the global commons," U.S. Central Command spokesman Kyle Raines said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

    The strategic Persian Gulf waterway, which sees nearly a third of all oil traded by sea pass through it, has been the scene of past confrontations between the U.S. and Iran, including a one-day naval battle in 1988.

    VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: kushal kumar from: Panchkula - India
    January 02, 2016 12:28 AM
    In article – “ Astrological probable alerts for US in year 2016” – published last year on 15 October 2015 in online magazine thesop.org , this Vedic astrology writer has predicted , among other things , the following : “ Last ten days of April 2016 extending to May 2016 seem to be of substantial concern on account of natural competitors , energy resources , nuclear concerns , farming sector and health of citizens”. A careful reading of this prediction viewed in the light of news report of today that US is considering new sanctions against Iran on account of nuclear program of Iran , one can have a clear insight that the aforesaid prediction for April- May 2016 for US looks to be having weight. Having said that , readers may know that these predictions are indicative of likely trends not amounting to determinism.

    by: D Schneider from: UAS
    December 31, 2015 4:53 PM
    I think if Iran wants the bomb we should give it to them... From 30,000 feet

    by: Anonymous
    December 31, 2015 12:55 PM
    The Arab mentality is to regard lying and cheating as a virtue. They will employ any measure of trickery and deceit in order not to face the truth. They will fight until the last woman, child, infirmed or elderly component of their human shield is dead at
    their feet and then will cry and beg for mercy. I say to Iran, do not expect any mercy from westerners, we despise your cowardly ways and the waging of war against people who cannot defend themselves. There is nothing glorious in that.
    In Response

    by: Eric L from: New Jersey
    January 01, 2016 1:52 PM
    You know Iranians are a mix of ethnic groups with a Persian majority. Arab-majority states are our allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and others.

    Very shameful to see VOA giving a platform for ill-formed comments like this Anon and one D Schneider.

    by: Campbell
    December 31, 2015 10:20 AM
    Iran is saying that the US is lying and it has not test-fired any rockets.

    by: Igor from: Russia
    December 31, 2015 8:33 AM
    Stupid actions from the US!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora