Here we go? Iran apparently tested a missile this week


North Korea isn’t the only country testing out their missile capabilities. CNN’s Barbara Starr reported yesterday afternoon Iran also sent a missile into the air on Wednesday.

Not much is out about the missile and the alarm seems to be more muted than the one displayed by South Korea over North Korea. The Iranian government is staying silent on the test although state-owned PressTV suggested it was true.

Iran has not yet confirmed the missile test, but has repeatedly said its military might poses no threat to other countries, and that its defense doctrine is based on deterrence.

Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN that Iran “will never start a war,” but “will defend its territory” against any act of aggression.

Speaking to Fareed Zakaria in New York, Zarif said Iran has never started a war and will never start one, “but we will defend ourselves and anybody who starts a war with Iran will not be the one who ends it.”

How President Donald Trump and the Pentagon reacts to the new test will be telling. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said multiples times on Thursday he’d be willing to do direct talks with Iran – but wants them to make the first call. Via Reuters:

Asked if he would be willing to go to Tehran, Pompeo said in an interview with Bloomberg TV: “Sure. If that’s the call, I’d happily go there… I would welcome the chance to speak directly to the Iranian people.”

Tensions between Iran and the United States have ratcheted up since last year, when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iranian nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, saying it was not strong enough. Washington also reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Trump and Iranian leaders have both publicly said talks were possible, but the prospect for dialogue appeared to recede on Wednesday when the top military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran would not negotiate with Washington under any circumstances.

Public posturing is always fun.

It seems like there are global concerns on if there is an actual ‘plan’ when it comes to Iran and protecting oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. There is at least one country waiting for more information before committing to some sort of plan. Again, via Reuters.

A senior diplomat in Japan, Washington’s key Asian ally, told Reuters that Pompeo had talked with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by telephone on Friday, but that Japan was not in a position to decide if or how it could join any maritime force until the United S[t]ates provided a blueprint of how such an operation would work.

“We don’t know where they want to lead,” he said, asking not to be identified because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Denmark Foreign Affairs Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted this morning his country was interested in some sort of role in the Strait of Hormuz.

The caveat is obviously whether Parliament decides to get the Danes involved in whatever the actual plan ends up entailing. It should involve negotiations between Iran and the U.S – since they’re the major players – of course, it won’t come to anything if the countries decide to just negotiate in the media. Or decide to just talk ‘at’ each other with demands they know won’t be met under any circumstance.

Congress will need to assert its role in the decision-making process should it appear the United States is going to get involved in a military conflict. The Constitution – yes, that old thing everyone claims to have some sort of adherence towards when it suits their fancy – requires a congressional vote on war. Any military action against Iran would be an act of war – unless it ended up being something self-defense in nature. The Constitution does not give Trump the power to do whatever he wants – no matter what he may have said earlier this week. The House and Senate would need to declare war before bombs start falling – should it end up coming to that.

Here’s hoping it won’t and cooler heads will start prevailing.

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