The Impending Collision in the Gulf

Iran and Trump on collision course: Tehran refuses to stop missile tests – tensions surge

IRAN has insisted it is “normal” to test missiles as part of its defence research amid growing tensions with the US.

By Rebecca Perring 12:12, Wed, Jul 31, 2019 | UPDATED: 13:00, Wed, Jul 31, 2019

Israel carried out strikes on Iranian targets in Iraq says report

US President Donald Trump and Israel joined forces to launch their own Arrow 3 missile days after they accused Iran of testing a new mid-range ballistic missile in a sign of defiance towards Washington’s demands to end their nuclear development programme. An American defence official last week announced its arch-foe in the Middle East had fired a medium-range ballistic missile that travelled some 1,000 km (620 miles), but insisted it posed no threat to shipping or US personnel in the region.

Brigadier General Amir Hatami stopped short of explicitly confirming the test.

But said: “Such things are normal across the world.

“The research programmes of the armed forces are drawn up and carried out every year including missile tests,” according to the semi-official news agency ISNA.

His comments come after the US and Israel successfully tested a long-range missile in a joint effort to increase military security amid growing tension with Iran.

Iran news: Brigadier General Amir Hatam did not confirm the tests (Image: REUTERS )

The test of the jointly developed defence system was hailed as a “major milestone” in the collaboration between the US and Israeli military.

Speaking following the launch at the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska, Missile Defence Agency director Vice-Admiral Jon Hill said: “These successful tests mark a major milestone in the development of the Arrow Weapon System.

“This unique success in Alaska provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing threats in the region.

“We are committed to assisting the government of Israel in upgrading its national missile defence capability to defend the State of Israel from emerging threats.”

Iran news: Israel and the US have joined forces to combat the threat from Iran (Image: REUTERS )

In response to the Israeli-US moves, the head of Iran’s navy announced series of joint military drills with Russia.

The drills will take place in the same waters in which the US has accused Iran of attacking and seizing international vessels.

Tension has been mounting in the Middle East as Tehran and the US continue to engage in a series of skirmishes over US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw his support from the Iran nuclear deal.

The US leader left the world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal last year, arguing he wanted a wider accord that not only limited Iran’s nuclear activity but also curbed its ballistic missile programme and reined in its support for proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

Iran news: The US and Israel launched their own Arrow 3 missile (Image: GETTY )

Iran news: The joint test was hailed as a “major milestone” (Image: GETTY )

The agreement, originally brokered by former US President Barak Obama, was aimed at monitoring and controlling Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Earlier this month President Trump announced a new swathe of sanctions against Tehran after the Iranian Government confirmed they would exceed the limits of enriched uranium they are permitted to hold under the deal.

Iran has ruled out talks with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly the missile programme which it argues is only used in defence and deterrent purposes.

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said he had offered to travel to Tehran for emergency talks with the regime but later claimed he had been rejected.

Iran news: Tensions have been growing between Iran and the US since Trump axed the nuclear deal (Image: EXPRESS)

Secretary Pompeo wrote on Twitter: “I recently offered to travel to Tehran and speak directly to the Iranian people. The regime hasn’t accepted my offer.

“We aren’t afraid of @JZarif coming to America where he enjoys the right to speak freely. Are the facts of the @khamenei_ir regime so bad he cannot let me do the same thing in Tehran? What if his people heard the truth, unfiltered, unabridged?”

The Islamic Republic has denied its missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads and insist its nuclear programme is peaceful.

On Saturday, Iran said missile tests were part of its defensive needs but were not directed against any country, without confirming last Wednesday’s reported test.

Iran warns it will continue to test missiles (Image: REUTERS )

Meanwhile, US citizens have said Iran poses a “threat to US safety” according to a fresh Fox News poll.

Fifty-three percent supported military action to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, while 57 percent support military action to curtail the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program (a record-high).

The poll also found voters were dissatisfied with the way Mr Trump has handled the spiralling relations with both North Korea and Iran.

His approval ratings on Iran (39 percent approve-46 disapprove) and North Korea (39-49) fell by 7 and 10 points respectively.

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