Iran Warns of Firm Response to any US Threat

VOA congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson and VOA Persian’s Katherine Ahn contributed to this report from Washington.

WASHINGTON — Iran warned Saturday that it would react sharply to any perceived aggression against it.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told the semi-official Tasnim  news agency that Iran would not allow any of its borders to be violated.  He said “Iran will firmly confront any aggression or threat by America.”

Britain’s Middle East minister travels to Tehran Sunday for talks with Iranian officials.  Britain’s Foreign Office said Andrew Murrison will call for “urgent de-escalation in the region.”  Murrison will also discuss Iran’s threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal that the United States pulled out of last year.  

Friday U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that the United States was “cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it,” Trump tweeted, saying the action would have been disproportionate.

“I am in no hurry,” Trump added.

The president also said that he authorized additional “biting” sanctions against Iran late Thursday night as part of his administration’s maximum pressure campaign to force Iran to restart negotiations over its nuclear program.

“Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!” Trump tweeted.

The move appears to pull Washington and Tehran back from the brink of armed conflict that could engulf the Middle East. President Trump spoke Friday with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The two leaders discussed Saudi Arabia’s critical role in ensuring stability in the Middle East and in the global oil market,” said White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley. “They also discussed the threat posed by the Iranian regime’s escalatory behavior.”
 
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday, “We are in an extremely dangerous and sensitive situation with Iran. We must calibrate a response that de-escalates and advances American interests, and we must be clear as to what those interests are.” She added that any hostilities against Iran must first be approved by Congress.
 
Concern about a potential armed confrontation between the U.S. and Iran has been growing since U.S. officials recently blamed Tehran for mine attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, allegations Tehran denies, and Iran’s downing of an unmanned U.S. drone this week.

James Phillips, a senior researcher at the conservative Washington-based Heritage Foundation, said he believes the immediate risk of a U.S.-Iran conflict has passed. “It’s probably over as far as the incident goes with the shoot down of the drone. But, I think if there are further provocations, the president will respond in a strong and effective manner,” he said.
 
Phillips also said he does not expect Tehran to accept U.S. calls for negotiations while Trump continues a “maximum pressure campaign” of sanctions on Iran. “I doubt that Tehran will be serious until it sees who wins the next presidential election,” he said.

The U.S. announced this week it was authorizing another 1,000 troops — including a Patriot missile battery and additional manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to bolster defenses at U.S. positions in Iraq and Syria.

Trump earlier said the unmanned surveillance drone that was shot down was flying over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz when it was hit by an Iranian missile, and said the incident was a “very bad mistake.”

Iran says the drone flew into its air space, a “blatant violation of International law.”



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