Sunday 05 February 2017

Iran world's 'biggest state sponsor of terrorism,' Mattis says

US Defense Secretary James Mattis called Iran "the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world" in his first comments on the country Saturday, a day after the Trump administration imposed fresh sanctions over an Iranian ballistic missile test.

Iran and the United States have engaged in tit-for-tat exchanges since US President Donald Trump signed an executive order January 27 banning nationals temporarily from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. Iran was among those countries.

US District Judge James Robart temporarily stopped Trump's order Friday night, and the Department of Homeland Security said Saturday it has suspended all actions implementing the order.

Eshaq Jahangiri, Iran's first vice president, dismissed the remarks from Mattis as "useless claims," saying that Iran had been instrumental in the fight against ISIS, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA.

"The Iranian government and nation do not care in the least for the worn-out and threadbare remarks made by the American officials," Jahangiri said.

Iran fired a ballistic missile two days after Trump's travel ban was announced and vowed to implement "reciprocal measures."

Mattis said Iran's "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," Mattis said in Tokyo, where he met with his Japanese counterpart to discuss security issues.

But he said the recent tensions with Iran did not warrant an increase in the number of US forces in the Middle East.

"We always have the capability to do so, but at this time I don't think it's necessary," he said.


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