US President Donald Trump issued an ominous warning to Iran on Sunday, suggesting that his country’s military will destroy it if it attacks American interests.
“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again,” Trump said in a tweet.
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
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been rising since the United States 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.
“We are certain… there will not be a war since neither 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.
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 program.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has called for emergency regional talks to discuss mounting Gulf tensions, saying Sunday that it does not want war with Iran but is ready to defend itself.
It comes days after mysterious sabotage attacks on several tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and drone strikes on a Saudi crude pipeline by Yemen rebels who Riyadh claimed were acting on Iranian orders.
King Salman invited Gulf leaders and Arab League member states to two emergency summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences,” the kingdom’s official SPA news agency reported late Saturday.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, said Sunday his country does not want to go to war with Iran but would defend itself.
Saudi Arabia “does not want a war, is not looking for it and will do everything to prevent it,” he said.
“But at the same time, if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with strength and determination to defend itself and its interests.”
The kingdom’s regional allies welcomed the Saudi invitation.
The UAE’s foreign ministry said the current “critical circumstances” require a unified Arab and Gulf stance.
The meetings will be a “significant opportunity for the countries of the region to achieve their aspirations for establishing peace and stability,” it said.
– with reporting by AFP