US Press Secretary falsely accuses Iran of attacking US Navy vessel, an act of war

As well as articles on U.S. sanctions announced today (Feb. 3), as the Trump regime raises Cain about one missile test. Remember Iran has not attacked a single country for hundreds of years. Nor have there ever been any Iranian terrorists. And before you say Hezbollah, in South Lebanon. I say: freedom fighters protecting themselves against Israel’s constant illegal invasions into Lebanon.

By Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons, The Intercept

(Feb. 2) – White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer asserted at Thursday’s press briefing that Iran had attacked a U.S. naval vessel, as part of his argument defending the administration’s bellicose announcement that Iran is “on notice.”

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday said he was “officially putting Iran on notice” following the country’s ballistic missile test and an attack on a Saudi naval vessel by Houthi rebels in Yemen (the Houthis are tenuously aligned with Iran’s government but are distinct from it).

The White House press corps wanted to know what being put “on notice” entailed, and Spicer responded by claiming that Iran’s government took actions against a U.S. naval vessel, which would be an act of war. “I think General Flynn was really clear yesterday that Iran has violated the Joint Resolution, that Iran’s additional hostile actions that it took against our Navy vessel are ones that we are very clear are not going to sit by and take,” he said. “I think that we will have further updates for you on those additional actions.”

Major Garrett of CBS News quietly corrected him, saying “a Saudi vessel,” and Spicer then responded almost inaudibly: “Sorry, thank you, yes a Saudi vessel. Yes, that’s right.” He did not in any way address his false claim that it was an Iranian attack, however.

Watch Spicer’s remarks: spokesman Christopher Sherwood confirmed to The Intercept that the attack was in fact conducted against a Saudi warship, and that the Pentagon suspects Houthi rebels. “It was a Saudi ship – it was actually a frigate” said Sherwood. “It was [conducted by] suspected Houthi rebels off the coast of Yemen.”

Fox News initially misreported that a U.S. ship was somehow the target — which is perhaps where some of the confusion in the White House originated

This, of course, is how American wars start. In the infamous 1964 “Gulf of Tonkin incident,” as it is often referred to, the White House and the Pentagon accused North Vietnamese forces of attacking two Navy destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam on August 4. President Lyndon Johnson used the attacks to coax Congress into approving a resolution, known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, that authorized military action in Vietnam. As the New York Times noted a few years ago, the “attack never happened.”

And way back in February 1898, a U.S. warship, the Maine, was moored in Havana’s harbour when a huge explosion blew it apart, killing most of its crew. The explosion was blamed on Spain, and led to a rallying cry particularly in U.S. newspapers of “Remember the Maine!” In April of that year, the United States declared war on Spain, even though there was no proof of Spanish responsibility for the explosion, and much reason to doubt it. As the Washington Post reported, an official Navy inquiry concluded in the 1970s that “a mine or torpedo could not have been responsible for the blast. The likely cause was a coal bunker fire that ignited the ship’s magazine.”

The U.S. and Iran both have ships in the Gulf area. The U.S. dispatched ships to the Bab-el Mandeb strait off the coast of Yemen in October to reinforce a Saudi-led naval blockade that has devastated the country and left 14 million people going hungry. At the time, an anonymous government official told Fox News that “this is a show of force.” Later that month, after rockets fired from Houthi-controlled territory appeared to target a U.S. warship, the Obama administration authorized strikes on three radar sites in Western Yemen.

In early January, a U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots at Iranian vessels the Pentagon said were approaching it in the Strait of Hormuz, on the opposite side of the Arabian peninsula.

Update: February 2, 2017
This story has been updated to include Spicer’s comments partially correcting himself.

PressTV (Feb. 3) – The administration of US President Donald Trump has imposed new sanctions on multiple Iranian individuals and entities to ratchet up pressure on Iran over its missile program.

The US Treasury Department said in a statement on Friday that it has published a list of 13 Iranian figures and 12 entities facing new sanctions.

According to the statement, the entities include companies based in Tehran, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and China.

The Treasury made the announcement a day after President Trump said “nothing is off the table” in terms of a response to Iran’s latest ballistic missile test.

Trump also said on Thursday that the White House has formally put Tehran “on notice” over its missile test.

“Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” Trump tweeted, echoing his national security adviser’s comments a day earlier.

On Friday morning, Trump accused Iran of “playing with fire.”

“Iran is playing with fire — they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!,” Trump tweeted.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran is “unmoved” by the Trump administration’s threats and only relies on its own defense means.

“Iran is unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people,” Zarif said in a post on his Twitter account on Friday.

“We will never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defense,” the foreign minister pointed out.

Washington has said Sunday’s ballistic missile test was in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

Tehran insists its missile tests do not breach any UN resolution because they are solely for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

Arms control experts have also said that Iran’s missile tests are not banned under the nuclear agreement and the Security Council resolution, because Iran’s missiles are not meant to deliver nuclear warheads.

Ali Akbar Velayati, the senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei

Ali Akbar Velayati, the senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei

PressTV (Feb. 2) – A senior Iranian official has played down the warmongering rhetoric and threats by US authorities against the Islamic Republic, emphasizing that the Islamic Republic does not wait for permission from any foreign state to defend itself.

In a Thursday presser, Ali Akbar Velayati, the senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs, praised Iran as the “foremost regional power,” which enjoys extensive political and economic capacities.

“Iran does not seek permission from any country to defend itself,” and will remain indifferent to Washington’s threats, added the Iranian official.

Reacting to the recent provocative comments by American officials on Tehran’s latest missile tests, Velayati said “the missiles, which were put to test were defensive,” adding that the Islamic Republic will continue its missile work with full strength.

In recent days, new officials in the White House have been raising Cain about Iran’s domestic defense program by making provocative statements on Tehran’s latest missile test.

Iranian officials have slammed such statements as foreign meddling in the country’s domestic defense agenda, saying that such missile tests were the nation’s inalienable right to self-defense.

Read more:

Velayati further said “the new US administration will also understand that threatening Iran would not be effective, and that it should end its groundless ranting.”

Touching on a myriad of controversial measures taken by the administration of US President Donald Trump since he took office last month, the Iranian official said such moves “would be to the detriment” of the American nation.

“We witness that the American people are also not satisfied with Trump’s extremism,” he added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Velayati referred to the latest round of the Syria peace talks held in Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana and emphasized that the event showed that Iran, Russia, and Turkey could resolve their problems without the presence of the US and western countries.

Read more:

A handout picture released on March 8, 2016 by Sepah News Agency shows a member of the Revolutionary Guards next to a missile launcher in an underground tunnel at an undisclosed location in Iran. (Photo by AFP)

PressTV (Ian. 31) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned the United States to avoid turning the issue of Iran’s missile program into a pretext for political games. In response to America’s recent allegation that Iran has carried out a missile test, Zarif noted that the issue of ballistic missile tests falls outside the framework of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2231, which was adopted on July 20, 2015 to endorse a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

The United States raises issues like Iran’s missile program to continue its policy of putting increasing pressures on the Islamic Republic, said Seyyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm, a journalist and political analyst.

“No matter that the United States [is] under the Obama administration or President Donald Trump, there is a line of policy and that’s keeping the pressure intact on Iran and increasing the risk ratio for Iran’s economic market,” Khoshcheshm said on Tuesday.

The United States wants to “keep the structure of the sanctions against Iran almost intact in order to affect or block the growth of its missile industry,” he argued.

According to the analyst, there is no difference between the two administrations of former President Barack Obama and the incumbent President Donald Trump with respect to putting pressure on Iran.

The Islamic Republic has emphasized in several occasions that the Iranian people do not need to wait for anyone’s permission to improve their own defense capabilities, the scholar said.

Khoshcheshm added that no country’s deterrence and defense power is “open to compromise” or any deal or negotiation, especially a country that is under constant threat of the United States and Israel.

Pointing to the nuclear deal, he said that there are multiple reasons why the nuclear deal is in no way related to Iran’s missile power, because the language used in Resolution 2231 indicates that it is not binding for Iran to avoid missile tests.

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