Iran is to deploy missiles for a Revolutionary Guards exercise Saturday in a show of defiance a day after the United States imposed sanctions over a ballistic missile test launch last weekend.
The Guards’ Sepahnews website said the maneuvers in the northeastern province of Semnan were aimed at demonstrating their “complete preparedness to deal with the threats” and “humiliating sanctions” from Washington.
“Different types of domestically produced radar and missile systems, command and control centres, and cyber warfare systems will be used in this exercise,” it said.
A list of the missiles to be deployed published later on the website showed they were of very short range — up to 75 kilometers (47 miles).
US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Friday that Iran was the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, as President Donald Trump slapped fresh sanctions on the country’s weapons procurement network.
“As far as Iran goes, this is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Mattis said at a press conference in Tokyo, but added that the US had no plans to increase troop numbers in the Middle East in response.
“It does no good to ignore it. It does no good to dismiss it and at the same time I don’t see any need to increase the number of forces we have in the Middle East at this time,” he said.
“We always have the capability to do so but right now I don’t think it’s necessary.”
US officials said that the new sanctions, announced on Friday, were in response to Iran’s ballistic missile test this week and its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen, who recently targeted a Saudi warship.
The new sanctions do not yet mean that the US has abandoned commitments it made under an earlier deal to lift measures aimed at Iran’s nuclear program, officials said.
But Trump has made no secret of his contempt for that accord, which his predecessor Barack Obama approved in July 2015, and officials said Friday’s measures would not be the last against the country.
Iran hit back at the sanctions on Friday, refusing to back down from testing missiles and warning that it would take “reciprocal action” against US individuals and companies.
That came a day after Trump insisted that “nothing is off the table” when asked about potential responses to Iranian actions.