A top Iranian military commander warned Sunday that any conflict in the region could spread uncontrollably. His comments came as Tehran asserted it would stand firm against any threats to its borders, after US President Donald Trump said the military was “cocked and loaded” to strike over the downing of a US drone on Thursday.
“If a conflict breaks out in the region, no country would be able to manage its scope and timing,” said Maj. Gen. Gholamali Rashid, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency, cited by Reuters.
“The American government must act responsibly to protect the lives of American troops by avoiding misconduct in the region,” Rashid added.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that the US launched cyber attacks against Iranian missile control systems and a spy network this week after Tehran downed the American surveillance drone.
Earlier on Saturday, Iran issued a warning to the US and its allies in the region.
“Firing one bullet towards Iran will set fire to the interests of America and its allies” in the region, armed forces general staff spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told the semiofficial Tasnim news agency.
Also on Saturday, Trump said that the United States would impose “major” new sanctions on Iran on Monday — a move sure to exacerbate tensions with the Islamic Republic.
Trump tamped down the threat of military action on Friday, when he called off retaliatory strikes at the last minute because the response was not “proportionate” to the drone’s destruction over the Strait of Hormuz.
But he had said military action is still an option and has brandished the threat of sanctions ever since.
Earlier, before heading to Camp David for meetings with his advisers on the situation, Trump said he would be Iran’s “best friend” and that the Islamic Republic could be a “wealthy” country if it renounced nuclear weapons.
“We’re not going to have Iran have a nuclear weapon,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.
“When they agree to that, they’re going to have a wealthy country. They’re going to be so happy, and I’m going to be their best friend. I hope that happens.”
“Let’s make Iran great again,” he added, tweaking for the occasion his main domestic political mantra.
Last year, Trump withdrew the United States from the deal designed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief, and reinstated measures designed to choke off Iranian oil sales and cripple its economy.
As part of the spike in tensions, the US has beefed up its military presence in the Middle East and blamed Iran, as reportedly did Israel, for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran denies any responsibility.