Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday warned U.S. President Donald Trump against pursuing hostile policies against Tehran, saying “war with Iran is the mother of all wars”, but did not rule out peace between the two countries, Reuters reports.
Iran faces a number of sanctions that were in place before the 2015 nuclear accords, which are set to snap back into place after Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the international deal over Iran’s nuclear program.
While speaking to Iranian diplomats, Rouhani said “Mr. Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret,” the state new agency IRNA reported.
“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said, leaving open the possibility of peace between the two countries, at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests,” Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to reported efforts by Washington to destabilize Iran’s Islamic government.
In Washington, U.S. officials familiar with the matter told Reuters that the Trump administration had launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups.
Current and former U.S. officials said the campaign harshly described Iranian leaders, at times using information that is exaggerated or contradicts other official pronouncements, including comments by previous administrations, Reuters reports.
Rouhani wasn’t impressed or worried with Trump’s threat to halt Iranian oil exports and said Iran has a dominant position in the major oil shipping waterway that is the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, according to Reuters.
“Anyone who understands the rudiments of politics doesn’t say ‘we will stop Iran’s oil exports,;” Rouhani started to say, adding that “we have been the guarantor of the regional waterway’s security throughout history,” according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday backed Rouhani’s suggestion that Iran may block Gulf oil exports if its own exports are halted, according to Reuters.
Rouhani’s apparent threat earlier this month to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries was his response to America calling on all other countries to embargo oil purchases from Iran.
Iranian officials have in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action, according to Reuters.
On Sunday, Iran’s ground forces commander became the latest military figure to back Rouhani’s apparent threat, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported.
“The Strait of Hormuz region must either be safe for all or be insecure for everyone,” said General Kioumars Heydari, quoted by Tasnim.
A top Iranian military commander also warned that the Trump government might be preparing to invade Iran.
“The enemy’s behavior is unpredictable,” Tasnim quoted military chief of staff General Mohammad Baqeri as saying.
“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 U.S. military to launch a military invasion (of Iran),” Baqeri said.
Iran’s oil exports could fall by as much as two-thirds by the end of the year because of new U.S. sanctions, putting oil markets under huge strain amid supply outages elsewhere, Reuters reports.
Washington wanted to keep Iran out of global oil markets completely after Trump abandoned the deal that limited Iran’s nuclear ambitions, demanding all other countries stop buying Iranian crude by November. The United States may grant wavers though.