President Trump tweeted an explosive, all-caps threat directed at Iran's president Hassan Rouhani late Sunday:

Why it matters: Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal in May and reimpose sanctions escalated tensions between the two countries.

The backdrop: Trump's tweet, which has already drawn comparisons to his now-famous "fire and fury" threat against North Korea's Kim Jong Un, was prompted by comments made yesterday by President Rouhani.

"Mr. Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail; this would only lead to regret. America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars...You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests."
— Iran's President Hassan Rouhani

The latest: Iran's state-run news agency has dismissed Trump's tweet as a "passive reaction." It claims the U.S. president was copying Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who famously warned the West to "never threaten an Iranian" during 2015 nuclear talks.

  • The initial comments by Rouhani were likely brought on by a speech made Sunday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who accused Iran’s leaders of stealing the country’s resources to spread revolution abroad and oppress Iran’s 80 million people.

What they're saying:

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: "To the regime, prosperity, security, and freedom for the Iranian people are acceptable casualties in the march to fulfill the Revolution. The level of corruption and wealth among regime leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government."
  • Iran foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi: "Pompeo's remarks show the U.S.' great frustration and its failure to achieve its ends after adopting the unilateral imprudent approach toward the Iran nuclear deal that has resulted in a U.S. global isolation. The hypocritical and absurd address made by the U.S. secretary of state was just a propaganda move."
  • Israel's President Benjamin Netanyahu: "I would like to praise the tough stand expressed yesterday by President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo against the aggression of the Iranian regime. Over the years, this regime has been spoiled by the major powers and it is good to see that the US is changing this unacceptable equation.”
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Fox & Friends: "The only person that is inciting anything is Iran." Trump is "certainly not going to tolerate" threats to the U.S., she said.

Go deeper

Updated 16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus — COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations
  2. Health: Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear them — America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19
  3. World: Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19.

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.

6 hours ago - World

Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López outside the Spanish embassy in Caracas, in 2019. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!