The United States can expect a “crushing response” if it launches an attack on Iran, an Iranian government spokesman promised.
“Any action against the Iranian nation would certainly face a crushing response,” spokesman Ali Rabiei said, in a statement streamed on an official government website.
Rabiei added that he personally found it unlikely that Washington “would want to bring insecurity to the world and region.”
President Donald Trump asked his senior advisers last week about whether he could launch an offensive strike on Iran’s main nuclear site, The New York Times reported on Monday.
The meeting reportedly took place Thursday in the Oval Office with top aides in attendance, including Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley.
The senior officials “dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike,” warning him that such an attack could escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of his presidency, The Times reported.
Obviously it was always in the cards that, should he lose the election, he would like to do something as a parting shot
Israeli defense analyst Amir Oren told The Media Line that President Trump’s failure to reach a new nuclear deal with Iran may tempt him to launch a limited military attack on the Islamic Republic.
“Obviously it was always in the cards that, should he lose the election, he would like to do something as a parting shot,” he said.
The mere notion that the discussion was leaked to the media within days shows the level of disagreement with the president, according to Oren.
“Even more important than the content of this report is the fact that it was leaked by someone in the close circle of advisers who told him it is not a good idea. Which means that people are trying to abort this idea, and because it was made public, Iran can now prepare itself and move material that it wants out of Natanz,” he said.
President Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement in 2018 and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, calling the accord “a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.”
Oren argues that the leaked report is an indication that the sanctions did not achieve their goal.
“He has failed in his policy of ‘maximum pressure,’” Oren said of the US president.
If there is any form of attack, the Iranians will not wait; they will respond immediately and overwhelmingly and they will strike targets across the board. They will strike those countries that have provided the United States with the capability of carrying out these attacks
Mohammad Marandi, professor of American studies at the University of Tehran, concedes that it’s hard to read President Trump. He told The Media Line that Tehran won’t sit idly by if it is attacked.
“Trump isn’t someone that is predictable so the Iranians are prepared for any foolish mistake by the Trump regime,” Marandi said. “If there is any form of attack, the Iranians will not wait; they will respond immediately and overwhelmingly and they will strike targets across the board. They will strike those countries that have provided the United States with the capability of carrying out these attacks.”
Marandi said the US president’s “aggressive policy” against Iran failed to achieve its stated goals.
“Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign has failed; the United States has isolated itself across the globe and it’s facing an internal crisis,” he explained.
The outgoing Republican president asked about an offensive strike on Iran after a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran was continuing to stockpile low-enriched uranium above the limits set by the 2015 agreement with the major world powers.
The most likely target of such an attack, according to The Times, is the Natanz uranium enrichment plant south of the capital Tehran, which is Iran’s largest uranium enrichment facility.
Pompeo, one of the advisers who attended the meeting, is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday in Israel, which has threatened military action against its regional archenemy, Iran.
“If I were the Iranians, I would not feel at ease” after the Times report, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said.
“It is very important that the Iranians know that if, indeed, they suddenly dash toward high levels of enrichment, in the direction of nuclear weaponry, they are liable to encounter the military might of the United States – and also, perhaps, of other countries,” Steinitz told Israel’s Army Radio.
Rabiei, the Iranian government spokesman, on Tuesday accused Israel of “psychological warfare” against Iran.
Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful needs.
Political commentator and Tehran University Professor Elham Kadkhodaei told The Media Line that Washington is “refusing to admit the failure of its strategy on Iran, and it is acting to look strong and attentive in the eyes of its friends in the region.”
“I believe that when it comes to Iran, the question for American presidents is: How do we crush them? Some choose diplomacy and sanctions, others choose more direct confrontation and sanctions (again), and the threat of military attack has never been removed from the table,” Kadkhodaei said.
Last week, President Trump fired his defense secretary, Mark Esper, leading some to speculate that he was planning a pre-emptive strike on Iran.
“It’s very unlikely,” said Alex Vatanka, senior fellow and director of the Iran program at the Middle East Institute in Washington, adding that even if the president wants to attack, he will not find any support. “He will find resistance including in the Pentagon, which is very reluctant to start new wars in the Middle East when they are trying to wrap existing wars up.”
A military confrontation with Iran “won’t be a breeze,” Vatanka said.
“This will be the mother of all wars. Let’s not kid ourselves: A war with Iran will not be a limited affair. What the Iranians do in retaliation is not something Trump can control,” he said.