TEHRAN, Iran — A top Iranian general said his forces were ready if US President Donald Trump followed through on his warning that Iran would “suffer consequences” if Tehran threatened the United States.
Though Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday there was no need for him to “respond to any nonsensical comment,” Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who heads the elite Quds Force of Iran’s hardline paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said on Thursday that he had an obligation to reply.
“As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to Trump’s threats. If he wants to use the language of threat, he should talk to me, not to the president,” Reuters quoted him as saying, citing comments reported by the news website Young Journalists Club, which is affiliated with state-run television.
“Trump should know that we are a nation of martyrdom and that we await him,” Soleimani said. “We are ready to confront you.”
He called Trump a “gambler” and said, “You will start the war but we will end it.”
“Trump’s language is still the ethics of nightclubs and gambling halls,” he continued.
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
Following his Sunday warning tweet against threatening the US, Trump suggested on Tuesday that talks were an option, saying “we’re ready to make a real deal.”
Earlier, Rouhani gave a speech warning the US that a military confrontation with Iran would result in the “mother of all wars.” He also directly addressed Trump. “Do not play with the lion’s tail,” he said, “because you will regret it eternally.”
The threaten-and-negotiate tactic seemed to mirror that employed by Trump against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom the president also sparred with on Twitter before a historic summit in May.
The back-and-forth came after the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal forged under former president Barack Obama. The move set in motion a renewal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic that were removed once the landmark accord was implemented in January 2016.
Those sanctions are now set to be reimposed in November, causing more than 50 international firms to exit the Iranian market, according to State Department policy and planning director Brian Hook.
The Iran nuclear deal — which was also concluded with other world powers, including Germany, France, England, Russia, and China — still technically remains in place, as the other countries have vowed to remain a party to the accord despite America’s absence.
Iran has said it will not renegotiate the hard-won 2015 pact.