Pompeo: US not aiming for war with Iran
President Hassan Rouhani called for unity among Iran’s political factions to overcome conditions which he said may be harder than those during the 1980s war with Iraq.
“Today, it cannot be said whether conditions are better or worse than the (1980-88) war period, but during the war we did not have a problem with our banks, oil sales or imports and exports, and there were only sanctions on arms purchases,” Rouhani told activists from various factions in Tehran on Saturday night.
Rouhani said Iran is facing an “all-out war” of economic and political pressure through sanctions imposed by the United States.
“The pressures by enemies is a war unprecedented in the history of our Islamic Revolution... but I do not despair and have great hope for the future and believe that we can move past these difficult conditions provided that we are united,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani said the outside pressure would never cause the Iranian nation to give up.
“Giving in is not consistent with our culture and religion and people won’t accept it, thus we should not accept submission and we should try to find a solution,” said Rouhani.
US President Donald Trump last year unilaterally abandoned a nuclear deal Iran had signed with world powers in 2015 and reimposed sanctions and Iran has indicated it may also resume nuclear activities if the other partners fail to protect it against American sanctions.
Trump on Thursday urged the Iranian leadership to talk with him about giving up the country’s nuclear program and said he could not rule out a military confrontation.
Trump made the offer as he increased pressure on Iran, moving to cut off all Iranian oil exports this month while beefing up the US Navy and Air Force presence in the Persian Gulf. The US also approved a new deployment of Patriot missiles to the Middle East.
US not after war
Despite the military buildup, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an interview with CNBC on Saturday that America is not aiming for war with Iran.
When Pompeo was asked if he feared that a miscalculation in the buildup could lead to war, he responded: "We're not going to miscalculate. Our aim is not war. Our aim is a change in the behavior of the Iranian leadership."
He asserted that the US would be happy to hold discussions with Iran to ensure that the country has no way to obtain a nuclear weapon, something he said would have happened if the US had remained in the JCPOA nuclear deal.
Iran has dismissed the US military buildup as “psychological warfare” designed to intimidate it.
A senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said on Sunday the US military presence in the Persian Gulf used to be a serious threat but now it is an opportunity.
The US military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East to counter what US officials have said are “clear indications” of threats from Iran to its forces there.
“An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now...the threats have switched to opportunities,” Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC’s aerospace division said.
He added, “If (the Americans) make a move we will hit them in the head.”
IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami said in a parliament session on Sunday that the United States has started a psychological war in the region, according to a parliamentary spokesman.
“Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter,” said Behrouz Nemati in a summary of the Salami’s comments.
Salami was appointed head of the IRGC last month.
Reuters and Press TV also contributed to this story.