WASHINGTON — Iran responded to President Trump’s all-caps warning of severe consequences for “demented” threats with a semi-capped retort from Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
In a televised speech Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, stating that the U.S. can’t block Iranian oil from the international market, said to Trump, “Do not play with the lion’s tail or else you will regret it.”
“Peace with Iran would be the mother of all peace and war with Iran would be the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said.
He added, “Do not forget that we have maintained the security of [the Strait of Hormuz] throughout history. We have historically secured the route of oil transit. Do not forget it.”
Trump tweeted Sunday evening, “To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
Zarif tweeted this afternoon in response, “COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!”
He may have been referring to Trump saying last August that North Korea “will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before” and telling the United Nations the following month that if the United States “is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” Trump had a friendly summit with dictator Kim Jong-un last month.
Separately, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami said the U.S. does “not understand anything but the language of force,” according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Asked what prompted the president’s all-caps reaction, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters today that Trump’s “been, I think, pretty strong since day one in his language toward Iran.”
“He was responding to comments made from them, and he’s going to continue to focus on the safety and security of American people,” she said.
Asked what it would take for Trump to meet with Rouhani as he did with Kim, Sanders replied, “I’m not going to get into specifics and certainly not negotiate with the press. That would be a determination that the president would make on what that looks like, but the ultimate goal and the focus of the president is making sure we keep nuclear weapons out of their hands and that we focus on the protection of America.”