As US vows to prevent nuclear Iran, Tehran warns of harsh response to any ‘mistake’

President Ebrahim Raisi says Islamic Republic ‘will not accept any insecurity or crisis in the region’ as Biden tours Israel and emphasizes commitment to reining in Iran

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the parliament in Tehran, on November 16, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the parliament in Tehran, on November 16, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi warned the US Thursday that any “mistake” Washington and its allies might make in the region would be met with “a harsh and regrettable response.”

Raisi spoke after US President Joe Biden, during a visit to Israel, signed a joint strategic declaration with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowing that the US will use “all elements in its national power” to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

“The great nation of Iran will not accept any insecurity or crisis in the region,” Raisi said in comments translated by Reuters. “And Washington and its allies should know that any mistake will be met by a harsh and regrettable response from Iran.”

He added: “Islamic Iran is stronger than ever and the power of the Americans is weaker than ever and they know that the project of maximum pressure on Iran has failed, but they are repeating this experience.”

The Iranian leader further said that “The Zionist regime should know that normalizing relations with some countries will not make them secure in any way,” a possible reference to efforts by Washington to advance ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia

Later, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said that “ss long as the fake state of Israel is the first stop on the American president’s visits to the region and their first goal is to maintain its security and superiority, the regional nations and countries will not achieve peace and stability,” Reuters reported.

In the joint declaration with Israel, the US affirmed “the commitment to work together with other partners to confront Iran’s aggression and destabilizing activities, whether advanced directly or through proxies and terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”

At a press conference, Biden and Lapid voiced disagreement over the best way to tackle the threat, with Lapid telling the American leader that “words will not stop them, Mr. President,” and urging him to “put a credible military threat on the table.”

“The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program the free world will use force,” he said. “It should not be a bluff, but the real thing. The Iranian regime must know that if they continue to deceive the world, they will pay a heavy price.”

US President Joe Biden (L) and Prime Minister Yair Lapid, sign a security pledge in Jerusalem, on July 14, 2022. (Mandel NGAN / AFP)

Speaking after Lapid, Biden said, “I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way.” He added that there is “an ironclad commitment from the United States of America to Israel’s security.”

In an interview that aired Wednesday, Biden told Israel’s Channel 12 news that he would use force against Iran as a “last resort” to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Biden explained why he believes the failing 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers should be resurrected, saying that “the only thing more dangerous than the Iran that exists now is an Iran with nuclear weapons.”

It was “a gigantic mistake” for former US president Donald Trump to pull out of the pact, he said. The 2015 agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program aimed to prevent it from obtaining atomic weapons. It was signed between Iran and the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany.

After Trump exited the JCPOA in 2018 and reinstalled stiff US sanctions, Iran dropped many of its own commitments, ramping up its program and increasing uranium enrichment to a point that experts say puts it close to the threshold of producing a bomb.

“They’re closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before,” Biden said. But bringing the US back into the pact will enable it to “hold them tight.”

Talks between the remaining signatories to the deal and Iran to revive the JCPOA have stalled, with a key issue said to be Washington’s rejection of Tehran’s demand that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be removed from the US terror blacklist.

Biden said that the US would walk away from the stalled nuclear talks if returning to the pact was contingent upon removing the IRGC from the roster.

Any agreement for the US to rejoin the deal is “up to Iran now,” Biden said.

Jacob Magid and Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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