The deputy head of Iran’s hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) mocked Donald Trump Tuesday, saying that the US president’s omission of military options in his recent rhetoric threatening to cancel the Iran nuclear deal proves he is scared of engaging the Islamic Republic.
“Unlike the past, the new US president didn’t speak of the military option against Iran because Iran’s power is credible and the enemy has realized and accepted Iran’s power,” said General Hossein Salami, in remarks quoted by Iran’s Fars news agency.
In a much-anticipated White House speech on Friday, Trump stopped short of withdrawing from the accord, but “decertified” his support for the agreement and left its fate in the hands of Congress.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear control accord reached between Iran and the so-called P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — was signed in 2015 and saw economic sanctions on Iran lifted in return for limitations place on it nuclear program to prevent it from producing nuclear weapons. Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposed the deal, saying it did not go far enough to prevent Iran from going nuclear in the future.
Outlining the results of a review of efforts to counter Tehran’s “aggression” in a series of Middle East conflicts, Trump ordered tougher sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and on its ballistic missile program.
But unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, who said during the negotiations for the 2015 agreement that “all options are on the table,” Trump made no threat of using military force against Iran if they fail to comply.
“Trump’s remarks, which seemed threatening on the surface, admitted emergence of an uncontrollable power,” Salami said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran. “It’s clear that he realizes our power.”
Salami said that Trump’s speech showcased “US defeats, failure and inability,” according to Fars.
Trump, however did announce targeted sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards, a key instrument of Tehran’s military and foreign policy that the president described as “the Iranian Supreme Leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia.”
He said he was authorizing the US Treasury Department to “further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents, and affiliates.”
But the US leader backed away from designating the Guards Corps as a terror group, a move that would have triggered a slew of sanctions and almost certain Iranian retribution.
Irani Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday that Trump’s speech outlining an aggressive new strategy against Iran violated Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers.
The virulent speech contravened three articles of the 2015 deal, Zarif said in televised remarks broadcast late on Saturday.
They include the requirement to implement the accord “in good faith” and for the US to “refrain from re-introducing or re-imposing” sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program.