Iran claims its missile strike against US troops was made in 'self-defense' after Trump's 'cowardly' attack

Javad Zarif

REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif speaks at a news conference at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne on April 2, 2015.

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif claimed his country's missile attacks against Iraqi military bases housing US troops were merely "proportionate measures in self-defense."
  • "Iran took [and] concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched," Zarif said on Twitter.
  • His statement comes as US officials estimated that more than 12 missiles were launched from Iran against two Iraqi bases.
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Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif claimed his country's missile attacks against Iraqi military bases housing US troops were merely "proportionate measures in self-defense."

His statement comes as US officials estimated that around 15 missiles were launched from Iran against two Iraqi bases. There were no US service member casualties reported immediately after the attack, according to a US official who spoke to Business Insider.

"Iran took [and] concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched," Zarif said on Twitter.

"We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression," he added.

Article 51 of the United Nations' charter says that a member has "the inherent right" to defend itself "if an armed attack occurs ... until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security."

Experts on Article 51 described its terms as "sufficiently vague" and that it is difficult to prove whether military actions between its members would be justified under the article's current definition. Jared Zimmerman, writing last year as a MA candidate at American University's School of International Service, assessed that Article 51 did not answer several questions.

"It does not define what constitutes an armed attack," Zimmerman previously wrote in RealClearDefense. "For example, is a cyber attack an armed attack?"

The missile strike follows a series of moves that have raised tensions between Iran and the US: on Friday local time in Iraq, a US airstrike near Baghdad International Airport killed Iran's elite Quds Force commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The US claimed the attack was in response to an "imminent threat" that was perceived from Soleimani.

US officials have yet to submit evidence of their claim against the Iranian general, who is widely accepted to have provided material aid to proxy forces fighting against the US. Following the killing of Soleimani, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed "harsh revenge" against the US.

After Iran's missile strikes, President Donald Trump said in a tweet that "all is well!"

"So far, so good," Trump tweeted, adding that US officials were still assessing the situation. "We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning."

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