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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 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

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