The United States under the Trump administration has further escalated its threats toward Iran, authorizing the possible sale of a THAAD missile-defense system to Saudi Arabia, and chiding the Islamic Republic for what the White House called “bad behavior.”
On Friday, a US$15 billion dollar sale of 44 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launchers along with 360 missiles and radar equipment was approved for Saudi Arabia, citing Iranian “threats” as the system's target.
“This sale furthers U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The THAAD system is the same one that the U.S. has deployed in South Korea. The system's presence in East Asia has angered China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as well as resulted in the mass protests of South Koreans.
The White House also announced on Friday that it would be soon announcing a new “broad strategy” for Iran, which it accused of “bad behavior.”
“The president... is looking at all of the bad behavior of Iran. Not just the nuclear deal... but the ballistic missile testing, destabilizing of the region, Number One state sponsor of terrorism, cyber attacks, illicit nuclear program,” White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said to reporters.
It is unclear what “illicit nuclear program” Sanders is referring to, as the International Atomic Energy Agency, and U.S. officials themselves have said that Iran is in full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) signed between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union.
Although Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has admitted that Iran is in “technical compliance” with the deal, Tillerson along with other Trump administration officials have made vague and unspecified accusations that Iran violated the “spirit” of the deal.
The alleged support for “terrorism” is referring to Iran's support for Lebanese liberation group Hezbollah, and the Palestinian group Hamas.
Trump drew confused reactions from reporters on Thursday when he emerged from a meeting with top U.S. military officials to discuss Iran and the DPRK, saying cryptically that this is “the calm before the storm.” Pressed further for clarification on Friday, Trump declined to provide details as to what he may have been referring to.
Faced with an October 15th deadline to certify the deal, sources close to Trump have said that a decertification is unlikely, a move that would likely unravel the landmark agreement.
Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with Newsweek published Friday that it is the U.S. that is being the aggressor in this case, putting themselves on a “collision course with the international community,” that almost unanimously supports the Iranian nuclear deal's continuation.
He reiterated that their development of ballistic missiles and conventional warheads is fully within the realms of the agreement and does not constitute a violation. Should the U.S. decide to leave the deal, Iran will pursue various “options within international law that are available in the agreement.”