9/19/2019 1:02:00 PM Iran: Any strike will result in 'all-out war'
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Any attack on Iran by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will spark an “all-out war,” Tehran’s top diplomat warned today, raising the stakes as Washington and Riyadh weigh a response to a drone-and-missile strike on the kingdom’s oil industry that shook global energy markets.
The comments by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif represented the starkest warning yet by Iran in a long summer of mysterious attacks and incidents following the collapse of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the accord.
They appeared to be aimed directly at U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who while on a trip to the region earlier referred to Saturday’s attack in Saudi Arabia as an “act of war.”
Along with the sharp language, however, there also were signals from both sides of wanting to avoid a confrontation.
In his comments, Zarif sought to expose current strains between the Americans and the Saudis under Trump, who long has criticized U.S. wars in the Middle East.
Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been challenged by opponents following the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi last year in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and the kingdom’s long, bloody war in Yemen. That country’s Houthi rebels claimed the oil field attack Saturday in Saudi Arabia, although the U.S. alleges Iran carried it out.
“I think it is important for the Saudi government to understand what they’re what they’re trying to achieve. Do they want to fight Iran until the last American soldier? Is that their aim?” Zarif asked in a CNN interview. “They can be assured that this won’t be the case ... because Iran will defend itself.”
Asked by the broadcaster what would be the consequence of a U.S. or Saudi strike, Zarif bluntly said: “An all-out war.”
“I’m making a very serious statement that we don’t want war. We don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” he said.