WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) — Tensions between Tehran and Washington continued on Wednesday as Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, affirmed that Iran would not bow to US pressure, while US President Donald Trump said that, if necessary, he was prepared to attack Iran.
In a meeting with Iranian judicial officials, Khamenei denounced the Trump administration’s repeated proposal to negotiate with Tehran as “an effort to deceive [Iran] into doing what the US desires,” according to a statement posted in English on Khamenei’s official website.
Khamenei denounced the US as one of the “most vicious establishments in the world,” as he charged that the “Front of Arrogance” has tried for the past forty years “to bring the Iranian nation to its knees.”
It was the Ayatollah’s first public comment on US policy toward his country since the Trump administration sanctioned him and his office on Monday.
Speaking to Fox Business Network, also on Wednesday, Trump was asked if the US might go to war with Iran. “Well, I hope we don’t,” he replied. But “we’re in a very strong position, if something should happen.”
“We’re in a very strong position,” Trump repeated. “It wouldn’t last very long, I can tell you that,” adding, “I’m not talking boots on the ground. I’m not talking, we’re going to send a million soldiers. I’m just saying if something would happen, it wouldn’t last very long.”
The day before, Trump had been asked by a reporter at the White House, “Do you have an exit strategy for Iran, if war does break out?” He replied, “You’re not going to need an exit strategy. I don’t need an exit strategy.”
Trump is threatening air strikes against Iran, and the Pentagon has, almost certainly, prepared a range of options for him, if he were to decide to take such action.
Last Thursday, Trump first approved, and then cancelled, an air strike on Iran in response to the downing of a US drone earlier that day. Trump claimed that he ultimately decided against attacking Iran as he wanted to avoid civilian casualties, even as he affirmed that a military response remained an option.
Washington has also sought to enlist Moscow in its efforts to counter Iran, and the US, Russian, and Israeli national security advisers met on Tuesday in Jerusalem. However, the effort appeared, at least publicly, to backfire, as the Russian envoy, Nikolai Patrushev, repeatedly backed Tehran, affirming that Iran “has always been and remains our ally and partner,” while criticizing Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria and disputing Washington’s claim that Iran had downed the US drone in international air space.
However, Trump is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Japan. Possibly, Putin will prove more forthcoming in Japan than Patrushev was in Jerusalem, and a former US intelligence officer advised Kurdistan 24 of his concern about Russian machinations aimed at flattering, and influencing, Trump.
Both Putin and Patrushev are long-time intelligence operatives and trained at manipulating others, the former intelligence officer stated, describing them as “highly experienced con men.”
Trump prides himself on cultivating personal relations with world leaders that then help overcome difficult disputes. But that is “nonsense,” he said. Such figures, like North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and China’s Xi Jinping, as well as Putin, operate on the basis of their own understanding of their own interests.
CIA Director Gina Haspel recommended that “some of her most senior intelligence operators” sit in on the talks with Russian officials in order to watch for such attempts at manipulation, he explained. The White House, however, rejected the idea.
Editing by Nadia Riva