Iran’s leaders shot off their mouths — and their missiles — on Saturday in a direct challenge to President Trump, who had imposed new sanctions on Tehran a day earlier to punish the country for an earlier rocket launch.
The test firings took place during the country’s annual military exercises, Bloomberg News reported.
Tehran’s leaders used the occasion to ramp up their bluster.
“If we see the smallest misstep from the enemies, our roaring missiles will fall on their heads,” said Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace unit.
Helicopters and fighter planes filled the skies over Tehran during the Revolutionary Guards’ war games.
The drills successfully tested land-to-land missiles and radar systems in a 13¹/₂-square-mile stretch of desert in the northern part of the country, Bloomberg reported, quoting Hajizadeh.
In Tokyo, Defense Secretary James Mattis called Iran “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” adding that its “misconduct and misbehavior’’ would have to be addressed.
“We have a responsibility with the rest of the nations to be absolutely clear with Iran in this regard. It does no good to ignore it. It does no good to dismiss it.’’
Iran’s first vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri blew off Mattis’ remarks, saying, “The Iranian government and nation do not care in the least for the worn-out and threadbare remarks made by the American officials.’’
Despite Saturday’s war games, Mattis said the tension with Iran does not warrant an increase in the number of American forces in the Middle East.
“We always have the capacity to do so, but at this time, I don’t think it’s necessary,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, other Iranian officials joined their colleagues in condemning Trump.
The commander of Iran’s ground forces, Ahmad Reza Purdastan, dismissed his comment that “nothing is off the table” in dealing with Tehran.
Pourdastan said he has been hearing such threats since the country’s 1979 revolution. “The defense capability and the offensive prowess of Iran’s armed forces would make America or any other enemy regretful of any incursion,” he told an Iranian news agency.
Trump promised during his election campaign that he would put an end to Iran’s missile program.
Tehran confirmed on Wednesday that it had test-fired a new ballistic missile, but said that did not breach the Islamic Republic’s nuclear agreement with world powers or a UN Security Council resolution endorsing the pact.
The sanctions announced Friday are directed against 13 people and 12 entities described by the US Treasury Department as “networks and supporters of Iran’s ballistic missile procurement, according to UPI. Also named were “five individuals and entities that are part of an Iran-based procurement network connected to Mabrooka Trading,” the wire service said.