The war of words between the United States and Iran intensified since the return of US sanctions two weeks ago following Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May.
Senior Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami renewed on Wednesday threats to strike US and Israeli targets if Iran was attacked by the US, Asharq Al-Awsat writes in the article US-Iran War of Words Grows Louder after Return of Sanctions.
He told worshippers performing Eid al-Adha holiday prayers in Tehran: "The price of a war with Iran is very high for America. "They know if they harm this country and this state in the slightest way the United States and its main ally in the region, the Zionist regime (Israel), would be targeted," he warned. Khatami also said US President Donald Trump's offer to hold direct talks was unacceptable as long as he was demanding that Tehran give up its ballistic missile program and scale back its regional influence. Neither issue was covered by the 2015 nuclear agreement. "Americans say you should accept what we say in the talks. This is not negotiation, but dictatorship," Khatami stressed, according to the Mizan news agency.
Last week Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who has a final say on Iranian politics, said the United States will avoid direct conflict because of Iran's military might. "There will be no war...We have never started a war and they will not confront Iran militarily," he remarked.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards had warned that it may strike Israeli cities with rockets if it was threatened. Iran also has agents in the region, including the Lebanese “Hezbollah” group.
Moreover, the Guards said that halting the ballistic missile program was out of the question, saying in a statement it was still acquiring “advanced missile systems capable of countering the capabilities of major powers.” The Guards stated on Wednesday it would continue to bolster Iran's defensive capabilities, refusing to surrender to US pressure to scrap its ballistic missile program.
“Iran's missile program has become the main challenge to the enemies of Iran, especially the United States and the Zionist regime (Israel) ... and increasing defense capabilities will remain the main strategy of the armed forces,” Tasnim, the Revolutionary Guards' media platform, announced.
Yesterday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said at a press conference in Jerusalem that Washington was not seeking to change the regime in Iran. "There should not be any doubt that the United States wants this resolved peacefully, but we are fully prepared for any contingency that Iran creates," he added.