US President Donald Trump issued an ominous 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”. This account has been met with widespread scepticism outside the United States, AFP said.
Tehran has described US moves as “psychological warfare” and a “political game”, Reuters said.
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
The White House has sent mixed signals in recent days, amid multiple US media reports of infighting in Trump’s cabinet over how hard to push Washington’s arch-foe Iran.
The Trump administration has ordered non-essential diplomatic staff out of Iraq, citing threats from Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups.
On Sunday, a Katyusha rocket was fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone, which houses government offices and embassies, including the US mission. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.
According to US media reports, Trump’s long-hawkish national security adviser John Bolton is pushing a hard line on Iran as others in the administration are resisting. Trump himself said recently that he has to “temper” Bolton.
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.
“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 Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed unilateral sanctions that had been lifted in exchange for Tehran scaling back its nuclear programme.
Saudi Arabia called on Sunday for emergency regional talks to discuss the mounting Gulf tensions, saying that it does not want war with Iran but is ready to defend itself.
King Salman invited Gulf leaders and Arab League member states to two emergency summits in Mecca on 30 May to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences”, the kingdom’s official SPA news agency reported late Saturday.
Oil producing countries met on Sunday in Saudi Arabia to discuss how to stabilise a volatile oil market amid the rising US-Iran tensions, which threaten to disrupt global supply.
Oil supplies are sufficient and stockpiles are still rising despite massive output drops from Iran and Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said at the meeting in Jeddah.
Qatar on Sunday weighed in on the escalating tensions, saying it did not believe the US or Iran wanted a war in the region.
“US President Donald Trump has said he does not want war, and I do not think Iran wants war or instability in the region,” minister of state for foreign affairs Sultan al-Muraikhi told AFP on the sidelines of a Qatar Fund for Development briefing.