Unique: Zarif threatens ‘all-out conflict’ in case of army strike on Iran

Javad Zarif advised CNN that Iran hoped to keep away from battle, including that the nation was keen to speak to its regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. However the opportunity of a return to negotiations with the US, nevertheless, wouldn’t occur except Washington offered full sanctions reduction as promised beneath the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran’s prime diplomat mentioned.

He once more denied Tehran’s involvement in weekend attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, which dramatically ratcheted up tensions within the area this week. Zarif mentioned Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who claimed duty for the assault, have stepped up their army capabilities and are able to conducting a complicated operation such because the one which knocked out half of the dominion’s vitality manufacturing.

Probed additional, nevertheless, Zarif was unable to supply proof that Houthis launched the drones and missiles.

“I cannot have any confidence that they did it because we just heard their statement,” mentioned Zarif. “I know that we didn’t do it. I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it.”

US and Saudi officers have repeatedly dismissed Houthi claims of duty within the weekend assaults. As an alternative, they’ve highlighted Iran’s alleged involvement within the incident.

At a information convention on Wednesday, Saudi Ministry of Protection spokesman Turki al-Malki mentioned weapons that missed their targets had been discovered to be Iranian-made. He additionally mentioned that investigations revealed that the drones and missiles had been possible launched from the north of the dominion, and never from the course of Yemen, which lies southwest of the nation.

Iran's top diplomat said Tehran would not start discussions with the Trump administration before full sanctions relief.

Warfare drums have grow to be louder because the assault. US President Donald Trump has referred to as on Pentagon officers to plan potential responses. He tweeted that the US was “locked and loaded” however was ready for Saudi Arabia’s rulers to resolve on a path ahead.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was the primary official to call Iran because the offender, is within the Persian Gulf visiting Saudi and Emirati leaders.

Requested what the consequence of a US or Saudi army strike on Iran could be, Zarif mentioned: “All-out war.”

“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,” mentioned Zarif. He added {that a} army response primarily based on “deception” in regards to the weekend assaults would trigger “a lot of casualties.”

“But we won’t blink to defend our territory,” he mentioned.

Returning to the negotiating desk

Within the interview, Zarif dismissed the opportunity of negotiating with the Trump administration, except the US had been to present Iran the complete sanctions reduction promised beneath the nuclear deal.

Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, formally often called the Joint Complete Plan of Motion (JCPOA), in Might 2018. He has since imposed greater than 1,000 particular person sanctions on Tehran, which culminated with an oil embargo this Might. Zarif himself can also be sanctioned.

“(The JCPOA) is an agreement that we reached with the United States. Why should we renegotiate? Why should we start something else which may again be invalid in a year and a half,” mentioned Zarif.

Sanctions reduction, nevertheless, may change Tehran’s calculations, opening the chance for talks.

“If they lift the sanctions that they re-imposed illegally then that’s a different situation,” mentioned Zarif. “Then we would consider (talks).”

US sanctions have crippled Iran’s economic system, inflicting the foreign money to plummet and costs to soar. The economic system has contracted and meals and medical shortages are rampant. “They’ve done whatever they could and they haven’t been able to bring us to our knees,” mentioned Zarif.

Iranians have been hit hard by US sanctions, causing the currency to plummet and prices to soar. (File photo)

Zarif is about to accompany President Hassan Rouhani on a go to to the United Nations Basic Meeting in New York later this month. Rouhani, nevertheless, has mentioned that he might cancel his look if visas for his delegation are usually not issued imminently.

“(The US) haven’t issued visas for the advanced team of our President. That makes it very difficult for him to go,” mentioned Zarif. Requested if time has already run out, he added: “Well I am not saying too late but it is very near too late.”

Earlier this yr, Zarif introduced a shock resignation that he shortly walked again on. Within the interview, the Iranian prime diplomat mentioned the incident was not “personal” and that he rescinded his resignation when he was “publicly assured” that he was nonetheless “in charge” of the nation’s overseas coverage.

Iran’s prime diplomat — who spent a number of years in the USA as a pupil and later as UN ambassador — mentioned he misses little in regards to the nation that now has him on its sanctions record. However he says he longs for the times of “rational” policymaking.

“What I miss is rationality. What I miss is prudence. I think the US deserves to be more rational,” mentioned Zarif.

CNN’s Salma Aldelaziz contributed to this report from Tehran. Tamara Qiblawi wrote from Beirut.

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