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May 21, 2019

Trump warns Iran of its ‘official end’

Top Story

May 21, 2019

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump issued an ominous warning to Iran on Sunday, suggesting that if the Islamic republic attacks American interests, it will be destroyed. “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.

Never threaten the United States again,” Trump said in a tweet. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been on the rise as the United States has deployed a carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over what it termed Iranian “threats.” This account has been met with widespread skepticism outside the United States. The White House has sent mixed signals in recent days, amid multiple US media reports of infighting in Trump’s cabinet over how hard to push Washington’s arch foe Iran. The Trump administration has ordered non-essential diplomatic staff out of Iraq, citing threats from Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups, and sent an aircraft carrier and heavy B-52 bombers to the region. On Sunday, a Katyusha rocket was fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone housing government offices and embassies including the US mission.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. According to US media reports, Trump’s long-hawkish national security advisor John Bolton is pushing a hard line on Iran, but others in the administration are resisting. Trump himself said recently that he has to “temper” Bolton. Iran’s foreign minister downplayed the prospect of a new war in the region on Saturday, saying Tehran opposed it and no party was under the “illusion” the Islamic republic could be confronted.

“We are certain... there will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion they can confront Iran in the region,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told state-run news agency IRNA at the end of a visit to China. Iran-US relations hit a new low last year as US Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed unilateral sanctions that had been lifted in exchange for Tehran scaling back its nuclear programme.

In Tehran, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday the “genocidal taunts” of US President Donald Trump will not “end Iran”, amid a spike in tensions between the two countries.

“Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone. Economic terrorism and genocidal taunts won’t ‘end Iran’,” Zarif wrote on Twitter. “Never threaten an Iranian. Try respect — it works!” he added. The comments by Iran’s top diplomat follow an ominous warning by Trump, who on Sunday suggested the Islamic republic would be destroyed if it attacked US interests. “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again,” Trump tweeted. Relations between Washington and Tehran plummeted a year ago when Trump pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and imposed tough sanctions. Tensions have risen further this month with Washington announcing further economic measures against Tehran, before deploying a carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over unspecified Iranian “threats”.

The claim has been met with widespread scepticism outside the United States. The Trump administration last week ordered non-essential diplomatic staff out of Iraq, citing threats from Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups. On Sunday a rocket was fired into the Green Zone of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, which houses government offices and embassies including the US mission. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

In Geneva Britain told Iran on Monday not to underestimate the resolve of the United States, warning that if American interests were attacked then the administration of President Donald Trump would retaliate.

“I would say to the Iranians: Do not underestimate the resolve on the U.S. side,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly.

“They don’t want a war with Iran. But if American interests are attacked, they will retaliate. And that is something that the Iranians needs to think about very, very carefully.”

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