TEL AVIV – The U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia should not “get themselves into serious trouble” by taking military action against Iran, the Islamic Republic’s top diplomat said in a BBC interview on Monday.
“First of all, we’re not talking about the law of the jungle,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told BBC’s Lyse Doucet.
Referring to a proposal by the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia to renew sanctions on Tehran after the country conducted ballistic missile tests, Zarif said, “We’re talking about the international law, and according to international law, those options are a violation of international law.”
“I certainly hope that prudence will prevail because Iran is not an easy target,” Zarif asserted. “We’re not going to provoke anybody. We’re not going to instigate any hostility. We’ve never started hostility, and we’re not planning to do it. But we will defend ourselves.”
“I do not believe that people looking at our history, people looking at our capabilities, will ever make the decision to engage in that misadventure,” the foreign minister added.
Zarif further claimed that the Obama administration had been forced to sign the nuclear deal once it understood that sanctions were not a deterrent, and instead were having the reverse effect of strengthening Tehran’s resolve. He added that the nuclear agreement was a fair one that must be maintained by all parties.
Following a meeting with Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, “The three main problems we must handle are Iran, Iran and Iran. We must build a genuine and effective coalition to deal with the terrorism [Iran] spreads around the world, the development of missiles it is engaged in and its nuclear arms race.”
The defense chiefs’ meeting occurred two days after President Donald Trump met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.
According to the White House, Iran was also on top of the agenda for the two leaders.
Earlier this month, National Security Adviser Mike Flynn warned that he was “putting Iran on notice” following the tests and President Donald Trump vowed that “nothing is off the table” if the Islamic Republic refused to toe the line.
In response, chief of the IRGC’s ground forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour warned the U.S. against making threats it couldn’t back up.
“The U.S. statesmen should be very wise and avoid threatening Iran, because the entire world has admitted this fact that the Americans cannot do such a thing,” Pakpour told the semi-official Fars news agency.
At a security summit in Munich on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday called Iran “the leading state sponsor of terrorism.”
“Thanks to the end of nuclear-related sanctions under the [deal], Iran now has additional resources to devote to these efforts,” Pence said.
“Let me be clear again: Under President Trump the United States will remain fully committed to ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon capable of threatening … our allies in the region, especially Israel,” the vice president added.
Earlier this week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed resistance to Trump’s “measures and threats” and mockingly thanked the president for saving Iran a great deal of trouble by “revealing the real face of America,” characterized by “political, economic, moral and social corruption.”