Foreign Secretary warns Iran about escalating tensions

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned Iran that the United States will retaliate if it chooses to escalate tensions.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, where he is attending the World Health Assembly, the Foreign Secretary said: “Do not underestimate the resolve on the US side. They don’t want a war with Iran. But if American interests are attacked, they will retaliate. And that is something that the Iranians need to think about very, very carefully. We want the situation to deescalate because this is a part of the world where things can get triggered accidentally.”

US President Donald Trump said that if anything happens “it will be met obviously with great force.”  On Sunday he tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.” Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif responded to Trump’s comments, tweeting that the President is being “goaded” by what he called the “B Team” – a reference to US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that he is not in favour of war, but in current conditions Iran must choose a policy of resistance. The Islamic Republic News Agency quoted him telling leading religious figures: “I favour talks and diplomacy but under current conditions, I do not accept it, as today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only.”

Rouhani also said that Iran would not completely walk away from the Iran nuclear deal: “If we walked away from the JCPOA with the US provocative acts, then, in addition to the US, the UN and world would also impose sanctions on us.”

Concerns are increasing about the possibility of full-scale conflict between Iran and the United States. Last week, Washington ordered the evacuation of non-essential diplomatic staff from Iraq amid unspecified threats from Iran and rising tensions across the region. The White House has also sent an aircraft carrier group and bombers to the Persian Gulf.

On Sunday night, a Katyusha missile was fired towards Baghdad’s Green Zone, a fortified part of the Iraqi capital where the US embassy is based. The missile is believed to have been fired from east Baghdad, an area where Iran-backed Shia militias are known to operate.