Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani warned the United States Sunday not to “play with the lion’s tail,” saying that conflict with Iran would be the “mother of all wars.”
“You declare war and then you speak of wanting to support the Iranian people,” Rouhani said in a televised speech at a gathering of Iranian diplomats in Tehran.
Rouhani suggested peace was still possible but said the opposite was also true. “America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
Rouhani also appeared to refer to recent reports that the Trump administration is using speeches and online activities to try to create a swell of internal dissatisfaction with the regime.
“You cannot provoke the Iranian people against their own security and interests,” he said.
Rouhani spoke ahead of a much-trailed speech by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later Sunday, seen as part of Washington’s efforts to foment unrest against the Islamic government in Iran.
Rouhani repeated his warning that Iran could shut down the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping lane for international oil supplies.
“We have always guaranteed the security of this strait. Do not play with the lion’s tail, you will regret it forever,” he said.
The US is seeking to tighten the economic screws on Iran, abandoning a landmark 2015 nuclear deal and reimposing stringent sanctions.
Washington has also launched concerted propaganda efforts in Iran, including social media campaigns, designed to exacerbate popular discontent.
“Whenever Europe has sought an agreement with us, the White House has sown discord,” Rouhani said.
But he added: “We must not think that the White House will remain forever at this level of opposition to international law, against the Muslim world.”
Meanwhile on Saturday Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the nation should not count on Europe’s proposals package to fix the nuclear deal following Washington’s exit.
Having withdrawn from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, Washington is determined to isolate Iran and pile on economic pressure with a full reimposition of sanctions, starting in August.
Europe is opposed to the move and has vowed to find ways of maintaining its trade ties with Iran, which under the deal curbed its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions. Proposals by EU nations for economic “guarantees” to Iran have so far been judged “insufficient” by Tehran.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif last week questioned whether Europe has the will to continue with the current deal. “Are the people of Europe prepared to accept US national interest dominating the decision-making process in the global economy?” he said in an interview with Euronews. “Are they prepared to accept this? Or are they prepared to stand against this?”
Trump has said he is open to a new deal that would cover not only Iran’s nuclear facilities, but also its missile program and regional interventions.
But Khamenei said talks with the US had proven to be “a blatant mistake” and “useless,” claiming Washington would not be satisfied until the current regime was gone.
“I have long pointed out that it is not possible to count on the words and even the signatures of the Americans, so negotiations with the United States are of no avail,” he said.
Washington has “a fundamental problem with the nature of Iran’s Islamic establishment,” Khamenei asserted.
Iran has warned it is ready to boost its uranium enrichment to higher levels if talks with Europe on salvaging the nuclear deal fail.
On Tuesday, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman and vice president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said Tehran is “continuing to carry out and implement our obligations based on the JCPOA,” he said, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal
But, he added, “we have of course adopted some measures in order to prepare the ground for eventually increasing the level of enrichment if it is needed and if the negotiations with the Europeans fail.”
On Wednesday, the chief of Iran’s nuclear agency Ali Akbar Salehi said that his country’s effort to acquire uranium has resulted in a stockpile of as much as 950 tons.