Fri, 06/28/2019 - 14:02
Zarif to Trump: Sanctions don't avoid war, they are war
Amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran, Iran’s foreign minister has blasted the U.S. president over what he called "misconceptions" that undermine peace. "Sanctions aren't alternative to war; they ARE war," Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter late Thursday, tagging Donald Trump. The U.S. on Monday imposed sanctions on Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his officials, and other top military officials after Trump opted last week not to carry out an attack on Iranian targets he says would have killed 150 people. The airstrikes were to be carried out following Iran's downing of a U.S. drone. Iran maintains the drone violated its airspace when it was targeted by a surface-to-air missile, a claim denied by Washington, which says it was over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday denounced the U.S. sanctions, saying the move reflects the "desperation" of the Trump administration. ‘Obliteration’ = ‘war crime’ On Tuesday, Trump again threw down the gauntlet, declaring on Twitter: “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.” If there is war with Iran, it “wouldn't last very long,” Trump later told Fox Business Network. "'Obliteration' = genocide = war crime," Zarif said in response. "'Short war' with Iran is an illusion," he added. "Whoever begins war will not be the one ending it," Zarif added. Tensions have been rising between the U.S. and Iran since May 2018, when Washington unilaterally withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the EU. The U.S. has since embarked upon a diplomatic and economic campaign to put pressure on Iran in order to renegotiate the agreement, as well as other Iranian activities Washington considers to be "destabilizing." As part of its campaign, the U.S. has re-imposed sanctions on exports of Iranian crude oil, which sent Iran’s economy into a nosedive. Attacks on six oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz have further escalated tensions. The U.S. has sought to place blame for the mysterious attacks on Iran, a charge Iranian officials staunchly deny. The strait is a vital international waterway critical to the international energy trade with roughly one-third of the world's seaborne oil transiting it, as well as about one-fifth of the world's liquefied natural gas.