Pompeo says US not after war with Iran
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Tuesday night Iran does not seek a military confrontation with the United States, stressing that there will not be any war.
In comments to senior officials, Ayatollah Khamenei also reiterated that the Islamic Republic would not negotiate with the United States on another nuclear deal.
"This face-off is not military because there won’t be any war. Neither we nor them (the US) seek war. They know it will not be in their interest," the Leader said.
Ayatollah Khamenei noted the showdown between the Islamic republic and the United States was a test of resolve rather than a military encounter.
"The definite decision of the Iranian nation is to resist against America," he said, adding that "in this showdown America will be forced to retreat... because our resolve is stronger."
The Leader said negotiating with the US was "poison" because the Americans wanted to take away Iran's strong points such as its missiles or its "strategic depth" in the region.
"Negotiating with the present American government is doubly poisonous... they are not decent humans, they don't stand by anything," he said referring to the US decision to pull out from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers.
As an example, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “They (Americans) say we should negotiate over your (Iran’s) defensive weapons, [questioning] why do you build [for instance] a missile with a given range. Reduce the range [of your missiles, they say,] so you would not be able to hit our bases!”
He further played down Washington’s highly belligerent rhetoric against Iran, saying its real capability did not match its loud bluster, and that it “needs to engage in [such bluster].”
Ayatollah Khamenei said Washington gives priority to Israel’s interests over the benefits of all others, adding, “The control of many affairs rests in the hands of the Zionist lobby.”
The Leader pointed to the absence of integrity in the US administration, noting how various American officials contradict each other on a daily basis. The American society, he added, is also afflicted with rampant socioeconomic problems and violence.
Ayatollah Khamenei, meanwhile, also highlighted how Washington policies regarding Europe and Asia had backfired.
“In [its] policy of confrontation with the Islamic Republic too, the US will definitely suffer defeat, and [the situation] will end up to our benefit,” the Leader said, citing warnings by American analysts that Washington’s pressure on Tehran would, contrary to its intended purpose, trigger an “economic mutation.”
Ayatollah Khamenei said US President Donald Trump is uninformed about the situation in Iran.
"Their president says every Friday there are demonstrations in Tehran against the state... Firstly, it's on Saturdays. Second, it's in Paris, not Tehran."
Trump withdrew the United States a year ago from the nuclear deal between Iran and global powers under which Tehran curbed its uranium enrichment capacity and won sanctions relief in return.
Since then, Trump has ratcheted up sanctions on Iran, seeking to reduce its lifeblood oil exports to zero, to push Tehran into fresh negotiations on a broader arms control deal, targeting in part the Iranian ballistic missile program.
On Tuesday, Trump dismissed a New York Times report suggesting the US military had plans to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack US forces there or accelerate work on nuclear program.
“I think it’s fake news, OK? Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
No war with Iran
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said Tuesday the United States does not seek a war with Iran.
Pompeo, who held talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian city of Sochi, said the US "fundamentally" did not seek a conflict with Iran.
He said the US was looking for Iran to behave like a "normal country" but would respond if its interests were attacked.
"We have also made clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion."
Last week, the US deployed warships and warplanes to the Persian Gulf.
Tensions escalated even further after an incident with four tankers off the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, with US investigators reportedly believing Iran or groups it supports were involved.
No evidence of Iran's role has emerged and Tehran, which denies any involvement, has called for an investigation.
In Baghdad, the US Embassy published its order telling all non-essential, non-emergency government staff to leave the country. It came after Washington last week said it had detected new and urgent threats from Iran in the region targeting Americans and American interests.
That contradicts what British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a senior officer in the US-backed coalition fighting the Daesh terror group, said Tuesday, insisting “there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.”
The coalition has observed “no change in their posture since the recent exchange between the United States and Iran and we hope and expect that that will continue… We don’t see an increased threat from them at this stage,” Ghika, the coalition's deputy commander for strategy and information, told reporters.
Iran says the US is waging "psychological warfare" and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has said Iran would retaliate against any aggressive US moves.
Soon after Ghika’s comments, the US military reaffirmed its concerns about possible imminent threats from Iran to its troops in Iraq, who were now at a high level of alert.
"Recent comments from deputy commander run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from US and allies regarding Iranian-backed forces in the region," said Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman at the US military's Central Command.
Reuters, AFP, AP, BBC and Press TV contributed to this story.