Sep 19, 2019

Foreign minister warns of "all-out war" if Iran is attacked

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Photo: Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warns of "all-out war" if anyone attacks Iran, but Zarif emphasizes Iran does not want war with anyone, during an interview with CNN.

"I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I'm making a very serious statement that we don't want war. We don't want to engage in military confrontation. We believe that a military confrontation based on deception is awful. [It] will have a lot of casualties, but we won't blink to defend our territory."
— Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

Why it matters: Zarif's words are the "starkest warning offered yet by Iran" after a tense summer with the United States and Saudi Arabia, reports AP.

The big picture: During the interview, Zarif also repeatedly denied Iran's involvement in Saturday's attacks against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials have blamed Iran for the attacks. A Pentagon report on the incident is expected today.

  • Zarif claims the Saudi government is leading a "disinformation campaign," and they want to "pin the blame on Iran in order to achieve something."

Yes, but Zarif pointed to the Iranian-backed Houth rebels in Yemen, saying they had released a statement claiming responsibility.

  • When asked about the sophistication of the weapons, Zarif said people can get creative when they're desperate.

What he's saying: "I think it's important for the Saudi government to understand what they want to achieve. Do they want to fight Iran to the last American soldier? Is that their aim? Because if they want that to be their aim, they can be assured this won't be the case. Because Iran will defend itself."

Go deeper: Saudi coalition says Iranian weapons used in oil attacks

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Iran tests U.S. military messaging at UNGA

Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Istanbul in 2017. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tells Axios that Americans should ask themselves why U.S. soldiers should risk dying to protect Israeli and Saudi interests, and he thinks President Donald Trump is "determined not to get militarily involved" in Iran — but others in his orbit are trying to "drag him into" it.

The big picture: As leaders gather this week at the United Nations General Assembly, Iran and the U.S. are trying to figure out how to out-maneuver one another in a protracted dispute over the Iran nuclear deal, regional aggression, sanctions and oil sales.

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019

Trump says U.S. will impose "highest sanctions ever" on Iran's central bank

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani (L) and President Trump. Photo: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images; Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday that he had issued the "highest sanctions ever imposed on a country" on Iran's central bank.

The backdrop: His statement comes after he tweeted earlier this week that he had instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to "substantially" increase sanctions against Iran. Beyond Trump's statement in the Oval, the administration has not released any further details.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 20, 2019

U.S. to send troops to Saudi Arabia

Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Photo: Getty Images/Alex Wong

In a press conference Friday evening, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced the Pentagon will deploy U.S. forces to the Middle East in response to last Saturday's attacks against major oil processing and production sites in Saudi Arabia.

Why it matters: Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Saudis have blamed Iran for the attacks, though officials are still investigating. Iranian officials have warned the U.S. they are prepared to respond to any attack from the U.S. or Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowSep 20, 2019