WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump issued a stern warning to Iran on Sunday, suggesting that if the Islamic republic attacks American interests, it will be destroyed.
“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again,” Trump said in a tweet.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been on the rise as the United States has deployed a carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over what it termed Iranian “threats.”
Iran’s foreign minister downplayed the prospect of a new war in the region on Saturday, saying Tehran opposed it and no party was under the “illusion” the Islamic republic could be confronted.
If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2019
“We are certain… there will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion they can confront Iran in the region,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told state-run news agency IRNA at the end of a visit to China.
Iran-US relations hit a new low last year as US Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed unilateral sanctions that had been lifted in exchange for Tehran scaling back its nuclear program.
Trumps warning came just after a Katyusha rocket crashed into Baghdad’s Green Zone, which houses government offices and embassies, including the US mission, Iraqi security services said in a statement.
The rocket — which came after Washington ordered the evacuation of non-essential diplomatic staff from the Baghdad Embassy and the Erbil Consulate, citing threats from Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups — caused no casualties, it said.
The Green Zone is one of the world’s most high-security institutional quarters. Located in the center of the Iraqi capital, it houses parliament, the prime minister’s office, the presidency, other key institutions, top officials’ homes and embassies.
The American embassy in Baghdad — the world’s largest — lies within the fortified neighborhood, also known as the International Zone, which is surrounded by concrete walls.
The apparent attack came amid heightened tensions across the Persian Gulf, after the White House ordered warships and bombers to the region earlier this month to counter an alleged, unexplained threat from Iran.
There also have been allegations that four oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates last week, and Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for an attack on a Saudi Arabian oil pipeline.
Last week, the US ordered the evacuation of non-essential diplomatic staff from Iraq, citing threats from Iranian-backed armed groups operating in the country. Germany and the Netherlands both suspended their military assistance programs in the country due to the soaring tensions.
Iraq is home to powerful pro-Iranian militias, while also hosting more than 5,000 US troops.