Russia warning: Furious Moscow hits back at US in worrying move over Iran

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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has urged the US to soften its stance on Iran after US President Donald Trump threatened to extend military sanctions. The key ally of Vladimir Putin said threats by Washington to extend a UN-imposed arms embargo on Iran were absurd, and the US had no legal or political grounds to do so, Russian state-media RIA Novosti reports.

The weapons restriction formed as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, is due to expire in October.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, the US President has directed him to trigger a “snapback” on all sanctions towards Iran at the UN Security Council.

Tensions between the US and Iran have been on the brink ever since Mr Trump pulled out of the landmark deal.

The international treaty signed by his predecessor Barack Obama curbed Tehran’s nuclear weapons programme in return for sanction relief.

Washington since called for a wider deal to restrict nuclear activity, stop its ballistic missile program and end its regional proxy wars – something rejected by Tehran.

Iran has since appeared to taunt the West and has engaged in a surface-to-surface ballistic missile test.

On Thursday, Defence Minister Amir Hatami confirmed the operation and boasted the weapon has a range of 870 miles (1,400km).

The drill was broadcast on Iranian state TV and was introduced as “the newest Iranian cruise missile that will further strengthen Iran’s deterrence power”.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hailed the size of its arsenal of weapons but insisted they were for protection.

He said: “Missiles and particularly cruise missiles are very important for us.

“The fact that we have increased the range from 300 to 1,000 in less than two years is a great achievement.

“Our military might and missile programmes are defensive.”

The US and Iran were on the brink of triggering World War 3 in January after US forces killed Iranian major general Qassem Soleimani during a missile attack in Iraq.

General Soleimani was travelling through Baghdad, when his two-vehicle convey was struck by three US missiles on January 3.

Meanwhile, relations within the Middle East remain on the edge after the Iranian Foreign Ministry confirmed it seized a United Arab Emirates (UAE) ship on Monday.

The Ministry accused the vessel of violating its territorial waters and claimed UAE coastguards had killed two Iranian fishermen.


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Tensions have soared between the two nations after the Gulf national signed a deal with Iran’s arch-foe Israel to normalise ties in the region.

In a statement, the ministry said: “On Monday, an Emirati ship was seized by Iranian border guards and its crew were detained due to illegal traffic in our country’s waters.

“On the same day, UAE guards shot dead two Iranian fishermen and seized a boat.”

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