A high-ranking Iranian officer on Monday said US President Donald Trump’s warning of unprecedented “consequences” for Iran, should it threaten the United States, is nothing but “psychological warfare.”
Gen. Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar, the chief of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard’s volunteer Basij force, also said that Trump “won’t dare” take any military action against Iran. Gheibparvar’s comments were reported by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that “American must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.” He also warned Trump to stop “playing with the lion’s tail” and threatening Iran, “or else you will regret it.”
Trump responded early Monday with a exceptionally strong tweet that warned: “NEVER EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKE OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
Iranian lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh told The Associated Press that he doubted it would come to a military confrontation between Iran and the United States, despite the escalating rhetoric.
Falahatpisheh said that Trump and his Iranian counterpart Rouhani “express themselves through speeches since diplomatic channels are closed” as the two countries have had no diplomatic relations since 1979.
He said that unlike North Korea, “Iran never moved toward a nuclear bomb” and that therefore, “Iran is angry since Trump responded to Tehran’s engagement diplomacy by pulling the US out of the nuclear deal.”
Also Monday, Iran’s state-owned news agency dismissed Trump’s warning tweet to Rouhani, describing it as a “passive reaction.”
The IRNA news agency, a government mouthpiece, also said that Trump’s Twitter missive was only mimicking and copying Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who had in the past warned the West to “never threaten an Iranian.”
Trump earlier this year pulled the United States out of the international deal meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon and ordered increased American sanctions.
Trump has suggested Iranian leaders are “going to call me and say ‘let’s make a deal'” but Iran has rejected talks.
Rouhani has previously lashed out against Trump for threatening to re-impose the sanctions, as well as for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and banning travel to the US from certain Muslim-majority countries.
Trump has a history of firing off heated tweets that seem to quickly escalate longstanding disputes with leaders of nations at odds with the US.
In the case of North Korea, the public war of words cooled quickly and gradually led to the high profile summit and denuclearization talks.
On Sunday in California, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was strongly critical of Iran.
He called the religious leaders of Iran “hypocritical holy men” who amassed vast sums of wealth while allowing their people to suffer, part of a highly critical broadside issued as the republic approached the 40th anniversary of its Islamic revolution and the US prepared to reimpose the economic sanctions.
Pompeo talked about increasing the media outreach to the Iranian people. He said the US Broadcasting Board of Governors is taking new steps to help Iranians get around internet censorship and is launching a new 24/7 Farsi-language channel across television, radio, digital, and social media formats, “so that ordinary Iranians inside Iran and around the globe can know America stands with them.”
In the speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Pompeo castigated Iran’s political, judicial and military leaders, too, accusing several by name of participating in widespread corruption. He also said the government has “heartlessly repressed its own people’s human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms.”
He said despite poor treatment by their leaders, “the proud Iranian people are not staying silent about their government’s many abuses,” Pompeo said.
“And the United States under President Trump will not stay silent either. In light of these protests and 40 years of regime tyranny, I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you,” he said. “The United States supports you. The United States is with you.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.