14:11 GMT +324 November 2017
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    Iranian navy fires a Mehrab missile during the Velayat-90 naval wargames in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran (file)

    Iran Counters US Sanctions With New War Spending, Warships to Atlantic Ocean

    © AFP 2017/ EBRAHIM NOROOZI / Jamejamonline
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    Iranian leaders are responding to the latest round of sanctions signed by US President Donald Trump with a two-pronged approach: increased defense and intelligence spending by roughly $600-800 million and marshalling military vessels to the Atlantic Ocean.

    "No military official in the world thought that we can go round Africa to the Atlantic Ocean through the Suez Canal but we did it as we had declared that we would go to the Atlantic and its western waters,” Iranian Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said over the weekend, according to local media sources.

    "We moved into the Atlantic and will go to its Western waters in the near future," Sayyari added. In April, Sayyari reportedly said, "redeployment in the Atlantic Ocean, intelligence superiority, development of communications, progress in the development of the Makran coast and building new vessels are among the Navy’s plans this year."

    The legislative measure was reportedly passed to chants of “Death to America.” About half of the new funding will go to ballistic missile development, the Wall Street Journal reported, while $61 million will be allocated to Iran’s nuclear program. The bill has the backing of moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi. The next step for the bill is to go to an oversight body, the Guardian Council, which is expected to support it.

    "The bill had very wisely tried not to violate the [nuclear deal] and also gives no chance to the other party to manipulate it. This bill is an astute response to the enmity and wickedness of the United States against Iran," Araqchi told Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), an Iranian state-run media outlet.

    On August 2, US President Donald Trump signed into law a new round of sanctions targeting Iran, North Korea and Russia. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House by a margin of 419-3 and the Senate by a vote of 98-2. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul were the two “no” votes in the upper legislative chamber.

    Washington-Tehran bilateral relations have deteriorated since the start of the Trump administration and are likely to continue worsening, Max Abrahms of the Council on Foreign Relations told Sputnik International. Indeed, "the Washington establishment driven by the think tank community has no greater objective," said Abrahms, also a professor at Northeastern University in Boston.

    "Neither the US nor Iranian leaders want to seem soft to their domestic constituencies," Abrahms noted, adding "sanctions against Iran, I predict, is just one of a broader set of countermeasures coming against Iran."

    Within the past week alone, unarmed Iranian drones have harassed US aircraft and carriers in the Persian Gulf on two separate occasions, which the US Navy described as "unsafe and unprofessional" encounters. On Tuesday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement that the "IRGC’s drones are equipped with standard navigation systems and are guided accurately and professionally; therefore, claims made by Americans are rooted in weakness of their diagnostic and identification systems or otherwise in their intention to mislead the public opinion."

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    IRGC, United States, Iran, Atlantic Ocean
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