Rouhani: Iran ‘too great to be intimidated by anyone’
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Rouhani: Iran ‘too great to be intimidated by anyone’

Amid rising tensions with US, Iranian president says he hopes Tehran can ‘pass this difficult period with glory… and defeat the enemy’

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting in the southwestern city of Ahvaz during his tour to Khuzestan province, Iran, March 29, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting in the southwestern city of Ahvaz during his tour to Khuzestan province, Iran, March 29, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has pledged that the Islamic Republic is “too great to be intimidated by anyone,” as tensions rise with the United States.

“God willing we will pass this difficult period with glory and our heads held high, and defeat the enemy,” he said at a meeting with Sunni clerics late Monday, government website dolat.ir reported.

He was speaking after four ships, including two Saudi oil tankers, were reportedly attacked off the UAE coast Sunday, amid mounting regional tensions.

Iran has called for an investigation into what it called an “alarming” incident.

The Emirati-flagged oil tanker A. Michel, May 13, 2019, one of four ships damaged in what Gulf officials called a “sabotage” attack off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. (UAE National Media Council via AP)

On Tuesday, a senior member of Iran’s parliament blamed Israel for the attacks on shipping for which there has been no claim of responsibility.

The attacks “appeared to be Israeli mischief,” Behrouz Nemati said after a closed-door session of parliament, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

Also Tuesday, drone attacks by Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen shut down one of Saudi’s Arabia’s main oil pipelines, further ratcheting up Gulf tensions after the mysterious sabotage of the tankers.

Tehran and Washington have engaged in a war of words since Iran began to roll back commitments set out in a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal last year and has unilaterally reimposed stringent sanctions on Iran.

Washington’s dispatch of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group, an amphibious assault ship, a Patriot missile battery and B-52 bombers to the region has sparked fears of possible military clashes.

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