US ‘troubled’ over Iran’s military presence at Doha Defense Show, targets IRGC
The United States says it is “troubled” over the presence of Iranian military officials, especially those of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), at the Doha Defense Show in Qatar.
Iran displayed models of its missiles, air defense weapons systems, and ships at the Doha International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX), which was held in the Qatari capital from March 21-23. The Iran booth was organized by the country’s Defense Ministry.
Iranian Ambassador to Doha Hamidreza Dehghani posted pictures of the Iranian booth via his Twitter account on Wednesday and thanked Iranian inventors and technicians for their achievements.
“Of course, we do not look at the world through a gun barrel. However, in order to defend ourselves, we produce all the tools of power, and weapons are one of them,” Dehghani wrote.
A day later, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that the US is “deeply disappointed and troubled by the presence of Iranian military officials and reportedly Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps officers at the Doha Defense Show in Qatar.”
He said the US “utterly reject their presence” at the show and its maritime defense exhibit, “as it is Iran that is biggest threat to maritime stability in the Persian Gulf region.”
The White House, under the Trump administration, designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in 2019. It was the first time Washington had designated an element of a foreign state as a terrorist entity.
In response, Iran declared all US forces in the Middle East terrorists and called the US government a sponsor of terrorism.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington peaked in January 2020, when the US assassinated the IRGC’s prominent anti-terror general Qassem Soleimani, and Iran responded by firing a barrage of missiles at two US bases in Iraq.
Under the Biden administration, the US promised to pursue a less confrontational policy toward Iran. It entered negotiations held in Austria’s capital, Vienna, to rejoin the Trump-ditched Iran deal and remove his so-called maximum pressure sanctions, which included the IRGC designation.
Nevertheless, the Vienna talks have been protracted by America’s excessive demands and its failure to remove all the sanctions slapped on the Islamic Republic since the Iran deal went into force in early 2016.
According to recent reports, one of the key issues remaining is the White House’s refusal to remove the IRGC from its terror list unconditionally. Some of Washington’s Mideast allies, like Israel, have already expressed their outrage over the possibility of such a move.
In his Thursday statement, Price also warned of sanctions over transactions related to Iranian weapons.
“Transactions related to Iranian weapons are generally sanctionable under multiple US authorities, including sanctions related to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction,” he said.