Iran’s defense minister said Wednesday his country would defeat the US-Israel alliance in the region, amid rising tensions and fears of potential war between Iran and the US.
“We will defeat the American-Zionist front,” Amir Hatami told a gathering of military intelligence officials on Wednesday, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Iran’s military preparedness, Hatami said, was “at its highest point,” despite “the most difficult conditions” imposed by US sanctions. “We will be the final victors” in the standoff, he insisted, and “will defeat the United States.”
He blamed the sanctions and heightened tensions on Iran’s “defeat of the heretics” — a reference to the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria and Iraq, which Iranian officials have claimed was founded and backed by the US.
Tensions in the region have risen sharply in recent weeks as US sanctions on Iran, reimposed gradually in the wake of the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal last year, began to take their toll, pushing the Iranian economy into crisis.
Last week, Iran warned it would begin enriching uranium at higher levels in 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the deal.
On Wednesday, US officials announced they were evacuating nonessential American personnel from Iraq, a day after Saudi oil facilities were attacked by Iran-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen, and three days after four oil tankers — two of which were Saudi — were damaged as they lay off the coast of the United Arab Emirates by what Gulf officials described as sabotage. Of the other two tankers, one was Norwegian and the other Emirati.
Last week, top officials in the Trump administration warned that Washington believed Iran was plotting some sort of attack in the Gulf region, perhaps targeting US forces in Iraq and Syria.
To meet the threat, the Pentagon has accelerated the deployment of an aircraft carrier task force to the Gulf and accompanied it with several B-52 bombers, a Patriot missile battery and an amphibious assault ship.
The stepped-up deployment and heightened rhetoric has led to fears in capitals around the world of a possible military confrontation breaking out between Washington and Tehran.