Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is warning that any U.S. or Saudi military strike on Iran will result in “all-out war.” Zarif made the comment in an interview published by CNN Thursday.
“I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” said Zarif. He added that a military response based on “deception” about the weekend attacks would cause “a lot of casualties.”
“But we won’t blink to defend our territory,” he said.
It comes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called an attack on Saudi oil installations an “act of war.”
The U.S. accuses Iran of being behind the attack, while Iran denies that.
Javad Zarif told CNN that Iran hoped to avoid conflict, adding that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were willing to speak to their regional rivals. But, unless Washington provided full sanctions relief as promised under the 2015 nuclear deal, the top diplomat from Tehran said, the possibility of returning to negotiations with the US would not happen, Fox News reported.
“If they lift the sanctions that they re-imposed illegally then that’s a different situation,” said Zarif. “Then we would consider (talks).”
U.S. sanctions have crippled Iran’s economy, causing the currency to plummet and prices to soar. The economy has contracted and food and medical shortages are rampant. “They’ve done whatever they could and they haven’t been able to bring us to our knees,” said Zarif.
Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed the attack, saying that tens of thousands of people were killed over the years of Saudi-led war there. However, experts told The Associated Press that the cruise missiles used in the assault had no scope to be launched from Yemen and reached their targets.
Saudi defense ministry spokesman Turki al-Malki said weapons missing their targets were found to be Iranian-made at a news conference on Wednesday. He also said investigations revealed that the drones and missiles were probably launched from the north of the kingdom, not from the southwest Yemen direction.
In the meantime, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to German says his country has not ruled out any options in response to the recent attacks on its oil infrastructure.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan told Deutschlandfunk radio Thursday it’s not yet clear where the attacks originated but “Iran is definitely behind them.”
Asked whether military retaliation was being considered, he said “everything is on the table.” The ambassador says the situation could deescalate if Iran can be convinced “something like this is not acceptable.”
Includes reporting from the Associated Press