Oct 19, 2017

IRGC responds to Trump, picks up "speed" in missile program

Soldiers of the Iranian elite forces (IRGC) participate in the largest-ever war games near the town of Torbat-e-Jaam in 1998. Photo: AP

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) announced it will be enhancing its ballistic missile program "with more speed in reaction to Trump's hostile approach towards this revolutionary organization," per Reuters. This suggests Trump's sanctions move is likely going to illicit some tougher behavior from the IRGC, since experts say Tehran is likely to view the sanctions as a direct threat to its military.

What to watch for: "If they feel the sanctions are a lot then they would very much step up the ante — and step up their attacks," Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Clinical Associate Professor of Global Affairs at NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs, told Axios. The IRGC confirmed they will continue to confront the U.S. That could affect the ongoing fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Tehran views its missile program as potential protection against the U.S., although this program, they claim, is not about developing a missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said today that Iran is "not acting within the spirit of the [nuclear] deal" and maintained that the missiles program is "continuing unabated."

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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S.

The big picture: About half the planet's population is now on lockdown and the global death toll was nearing 64,800, by Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 54 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 8,500 in the U.S. early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest" time "between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said U.S. deaths are expected to continue to rise during this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health