Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned U.S. President Donald Trump in what has become a war of words between officials from the two countries.
“COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!” Zarif posted on his Twitter account on July 23.
Zarif’s remarks came after Trump’s tweet on July 22, when he posted a message addressing Iranian President Rouhani in an all-capital letters posting.
“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!” Trump wrote.
Trump’s remarks were a response to a speech that President Hassan Rouhani made during a meeting of Iranian diplomats on July 22, where he warned Washington not to "play with the lion's tail,” and threatened to close “many other straits other than the Strait of Hormuz” in case the flow of Iran’s oil to international markets is disrupted as a result of U.S. sanctions.
"Iran's power is deterrent and we have no fight or war with anybody but the enemies must understand well that war with Iran is the mother of all wars and peace with Iran is the mother of all peace. We have never been intimidated and will respond threat with threat," read a statement posted to Rouhani’s official website.
Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, backed Rouhani's suggestion and said that "if Iran's oil is not exported, no regional country's oil will be exported."
Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have been on the rise since May, after Trump announced the U.S.’ withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which means Iran will once more face economic sanctions.
Washington also threatened European and other global companies doing business with Iran with sanctioning, and called on its western allies to stop importing Iranian oil. Economic sanctions are expected to be piled onto Iran and go into full effect in November.
The JCPOA was signed in July 2015, after several years of negotiations between the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany, dubbed the “P5 + 1.” In exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program, international nuclear-related sanctions that had been imposed on Iran had been lifted, starting in 2016 under the terms of the JCPOA, as well as granting Iran access to frozen capital.
Meanwhile, Iran continues talks with its European partners in the nuclear deal which are preparing a package of economic measures to offset the U.S. pullout from the accord.
Iran’s oil exports could fall by as much as two-thirds by the end of the year because of new U.S. sanctions, putting oil markets under huge strain amid supply outages elsewhere in the world, according to Reuters.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has long pushed for a tougher stand against Iran by international powers, praised Trump's "tough stand,” saying that "over the years, this [Iranian] regime has been spoiled by the major powers and it is good to see that the U.S. is changing this unacceptable equation," The Times of Israel reported on July 23.