White House faults Iran’s Rouhani for heated exchange
The White House was quick to blame Iran’s leaders Monday for a war of words between President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart.
Trump issued a stern ultimatum to Iran late Sunday, warning his Iranian counterpart against issuing any additional threats against Washington after Hassan Rouhani said “America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
Trump responded in an all-caps tweet: “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!”
Trump has taken a hardline approach to Iran since coming to office in 2017, issuing economic sanctions while seeking to scuttle a nuclear deal world powers, including the U.S. under former President Barack Obama, struck with Iran.
Iran has taken umbrage with Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2015 nuclear accord, which saw Tehran receive billions of dollars in sanctions relief in return for a robust nuclear inspection regime and curbs on its nuclear program. Iran’s leadership has been seeking to salvage the deal as Trump and his administration bid to have other countries follow the U.S.’s lead.
The U.S. has warned international companies against doing business with Iran citing the threat of sanctions that would result in stiff economic penalties.
The White House quickly blamed Rouhani for the heated exchange early Monday morning, arguing “if anybody’s inciting anything, look no further than to Iran.”
Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, later issued a statement as well, backing the president as tensions run high.
“I spoke to the President over the last several days, and President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before,” Bolton said.
The statement echoes an earlier warning Trump issued to North Korea in August 2017 in which he warned Pyongyang it will be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continued to threaten the U.S.
During a Sunday address, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran “resembles the mafia more than a government.
“The bitter irony of the economic situation in Iran is that the regime uses this same time to line its own pockets while its people cry out for jobs and reform and for opportunity,” he said.
Trita Parsi, the head of the Washington-based National Iranian American Council advocacy group, said in a statement the top diplomat’s rhetoric “was clearly aimed at exploiting and fueling existing frustrations in Iran.”
“Pompeo, Bolton, and Trump have an enormous credibility problem because of their past hostility towards Iranians – ranging from the Muslim ban to the killing of the nuclear deal to their cozy relationship with the much-detested MEK terrorist organization,” he said.
“While Iranians are rightfully deeply frustrated with the clerical government, that doesn’t automatically translate into an embrace of Trump’s policies. Iranians are capable of rejecting both at the same time,” he added.