In what now seems like a weekly occurrence, Iran on Wednesday warned its military wouldn’t hesitate to strike American and Israeli targets should it be attacked by the United States after previous words from the US national security advisor warning that “maximum pressure” will be brought to bear against Tehran.
The words were issued during a public speech in Tehran by a senior cleric who works closely with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei named Ahmad Khatami. He told a congregation during Eid praryers in Tehran, “The price of a war with Iran is very high for America.”
Khatami said, “They know if they harm this country and this state in the slightest way the United States and its main ally in the region, the Zionist regime (Israel), would be targeted.”
The fiery speech was in response to statements given earlier by US National Security Advisor John Bolton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Wednesday while speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem where he was meeting with Israeli officials, Bolton said, “Every time that Iran has brought missiles or other threatening weapons into Syria in recent months Israel has struck those targets,” and added, “I think that’s a legitimate act of self-defense on the part of Israel.”
Bolton seemed to boast about Israeli’s capability to act against Iran and its allies in Syria during a speech wherein he also warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that if he “uses chemical weapons we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time.” Bolton was referencing the impending major Syrian and Russian military offensive against al-Qaeda held Idlib province in the country’s northwest.
And during a joint press conference Monday wherein Bolton and Netanyahu stood side by side, the two blasted the Iran nuclear deal and those international signatories still clinging to it even after the US pulled out last May.
“It’s a question of the highest importance for the U.S. that Iran never get a deliverable nuclear weapons capability,” Bolton said during Monday’s remarks, adding: “It’s why we’ve worked with our friends in Europe to convince them of the need to take stronger steps against the Iranian nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.”
Monday’s statements slamming the Iran nuclear deal and calling for continued “maximum pressure” on Tehran…
Netanyahu for his part again called on maximum pressure against Iran: “I frankly believe that all countries who care about peace and security in the Middle East should follow America’s lead and ratchet up the pressure on Iran. Because the greater the pressure on Iran, the greater the chance that the regime will roll back its aggression,” the prime minister said.
Both had echoed a theme of the Trump administration regarding putting intense pressure and potential sanctions against European countries continuing to do business with Iran: “We expect that Europeans will see, as businesses all over Europe are seeing, that the choice between doing business with Iran or doing business with the United States is very clear to them,” Bolton said. “So we will see what plays out in November. But [Trump] has made it very clear – his words – he wants maximum pressure on Iran, maximum pressure, and that is what is going on.”
And referencing sporadic economic protests inside Iran which occurred in early and late summer, Bolton said, “I think the effects, the economic effects certainly, are even stronger than we anticipated.”
“But Iranian activity in the region has continued to be belligerent: what they are doing in Iraq, what they are doing in Syria, what they are doing with Hezbollah in Lebanon, what they are doing in Yemen, what they have threatened to do in the Strait of Hormuz,” Bolton continued while referencing recent threats by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards to block the vital Hormuz waterway.
Thus far European Union countries are continuing to defy Washington’s call to bide by sanctions, the next round of which are to take effect November 5th; however a number of major Europe-based companies have curbed activities or halted contracts with Iran altogether, out of concern the failing Iranian economy won’t weather the storm.