President Rouhani warns Trump that conflict with Iran would be 'mother of all wars'

'Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail'

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Sunday 22 July 2018 15:18
Comments
President Donald Trump states if Iran restarts their nuclear program there will be severe consequences

Iran’s president has issued a stark warning to Donald Trump, telling him that if the US was to engage in military conflict it would be the “mother of all wars”.

Two months after Mr Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal that had been crafted to try and limit Tehran’s nuclear weapons ambitions in exchange for the lifting of many sanctions, Hassan Rouhani said America could seek the path of peace with Iran.

But speaking to Iranian diplomats on Sunday, Mr Rouhani said: “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

Quoting Iran’s state-owned news agency IRNA, Reuters said Mr Rouhani told the envoys: “Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret.

“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests.”

Iran faces increased US pressure and looming sanctions after Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from a 2015 international deal over Iran’s nuclear programme. While Mr Trump had campaigned for the White House vowing to pull the US from the deal, in the months and weeks before he made the decision, diplomats from Europe and Britain urged him to stay with it.

French President Emmanuel Macron travelled to Washington to speak with Mr Trump, saying that while the deal might not be perfect, it was the best way of ensuring Iran did not develop a nuclear weapon. Before leaving Washington during that April visit, Mr Macron had predicted that the US president would likely pull out of the deal “for domestic reasons”.

Iranian women dance on social media in support of teenager arrested over Instagram video

In Washington, US officials told Reuters that the Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear programme and its support of militant groups.

It said that current and former US officials said the campaign painted Iranian leaders in a harsh light, at times using information that was exaggerated or contradicted other official pronouncements, including comments by previous administrations.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is among those who have been involved in the propaganda, repeatedly criticising the state of women’s rights in Iran, while remaining silent on the situation in America’s ally, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf nations.

Mr Rouhani scoffed at Mr Trump's threat to halt Iranian oil exports and said Iran has a dominant position in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping waterway.

“Anyone who understands the rudiments of politics doesn’t say ‘we will stop Iran’s oil exports’ ... we have been the guarantor of the regional waterway's security throughout history,” Mr Rouhani said.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Saturday backed Mr Rouhani's suggestion that Iran may block Gulf oil exports if its own exports are halted.

Mr Rouhani's apparent threat earlier this month to disrupt oil shipments from neighbouring countries came in reaction to efforts by Washington to force all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.

Iranian officials have in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for any hostile US action. Separately, a top Iranian military commander warned that the Trump government might be preparing to invade Iran.

“The enemy’s behaviour is unpredictable,” military chief of staff General Mohammad Baqeri said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

“Although the current American government does not seem to speak of a military threat, according to precise information it has been trying to persuade the US military to launch a military invasion [of Iran],” Mr Baqeri said.

Experts have said Iran's oil exports could fall by as much as two-thirds by the end of the year because of new US sanctions, putting oil markets under huge strain amid supply outages elsewhere.

Washington initially planned to totally shut Iran out of global oil markets after Mr Trump withdrew Washington from the nuclear deal, demanding all other countries to stop buying its crude by November.

It has somewhat eased its stance since, saying that it may grant sanction waivers to some allies that are particularly reliant on Iranian supplies.

Among those countries is likely to be India, which imports a large amount of oil from Iran and has said it does not intend to comply with the US sanctions. Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

“India does not recognise unilateral sanctions, but only sanctions by the United Nations,” Sunjay Sudhir, joint secretary for international cooperation at India's petroleum ministry, told CNN last month.

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