Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused US President Donald Trump of attempting to fabricate a pretext to attack Iran, vowing Tehran would defend itself forcefully.
Separately, a military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader warned Trump “not to turn the New Year into mourning for Americans”.
Zarif made his accusation on Twitter on Thursday – a platform now synonymous with the US president and his unusual form of international diplomacy.
“Instead of fighting Covid in US, @realDonaldTrump & cohorts waste billions to fly B52s & send armadas to OUR region. Intelligence from Iraq indicate plot to FABRICATE pretext for war,” he wrote.
The US military has flown nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a show of force to Iran and deployed a nuclear submarine to the Gulf, according to media reports.
The build-up comes as Iran prepares to hold events marking the first anniversary of the killing of military commander General Qassem Soleimani in a US attack in Iraq.
Trump ordered the drone attack on January 3, 2020 to kill the powerful Iranian general while he was in Baghdad and came after rockets were fired at US targets in Iraq.
Intelligence from Iraq indicate plot to FABRICATE pretext for war.
Iran doesn’t seek war but will OPENLY & DIRECTLY defend its people, security & vital interests.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 31, 2020
“Iran doesn’t seek war but will OPENLY & DIRECTLY defend its people, security & vital interests,” Zarif wrote on Thursday (local time).
Hossein Dehghan, a military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Twitter he had seen news that “the Americans are on alert for fear of the revenge (over Soleimani’s killing) and have flown two B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf”.
“All their military bases in the region are covered by our missiles. I advise the White House evictee (Trump) not to turn the New Year into mourning for Americans,” said Dehghan, a former defence minister.
Bill Kristol, a conservative US political analyst and former chief of staff to former US vice president Dan Quayle, was among those to speculate overnight that Trump could use disproportionate force should tensions continue to escalate.
4. Iran (cont’d)
But of course there’s also the possibility of the Trump Administration using an Iranian provocation to launch an action that’s way beyond proportionate, as well as the possibility of simply inventing a predicate for U.S. action.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) December 31, 2020
Trump’s warning days out from anniversary
While Trump has yet to respond to Zarif’s tweet, he warned last week he would hold “Iran responsible” in the event of a fatal attack on Americans in Iraq.
“Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets,” Trump said on Twitter, referring to an attack that caused damage but no deaths.
“Guess where they came from: IRAN,” he added.
“Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq,” he added, before offering “some friendly health advice to Iran: if one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over,” he said.
The US leader, in his final weeks in office appears to be sticking to his “maximum pressure” approach toward the Iranian regime.
At a meeting with senior defence officials in November, Trump reportedly asked about options for attacking Iran, increasing concerns among analysts that relations could devolve into serious conflict before the president leaves the White House.
As 2021 approached in the US, Trump shared a video on Twitter of himself boasting of the US’ successes of 2020, particularly regarding what he claims to be a rapid response to developing a vaccine and the nation’s response to the pandemic.
To date, the US has recorded 19,821,487 known cases of Covid-19 and 343,818 deaths, Johns Hopkins University data states.
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