In an interview with CNN in New York on Wednesday, Zarif said the hawkish administration of US President Donald Trump is already waging an economic war against Iran’s civilian population.
“There is a war going on right now. It’s an economic war — an economic war against Iran targets civilian population,” he said.
Zarif also noted that Trump is on the record saying “that he is not engaged in military war, but in an economic war,” adding that “economic war is nothing to be proud of, because in a military confrontation, civilians may become collateral damage, but in an economic war, civilians are the primary targets.”
Asked about the possibility of a war with the US, Zarif said, “You cannot simply disregard a possibility of a disaster.”
“We’ve never started a war [and] we will never start a war, but we will defend ourselves and anybody who starts a war with Iran will not be the one who ends it,” he emphasized.
The top Iranian diplomat underlined the need for all parties “to work in order to avoid war.”
Tensions have been running high between Tehran and Washington since last year, when Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Recently, the US has taken a quasi-warlike posture against Iran and stepped up its provocative military moves in the Middle East, among them the June 20 incursion of an American spy drone into the Iranian borders.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) shot down the advanced US-made RQ-4 Global Hawk over Iran’s territorial waters off the coastal province of Hormozgan after the unmanned aircraft breached the country’s airspace on a spying mission.
Iran’s IRGC shoots down intruding US spy drone Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps shoots down an intruding American spy drone in the country’s southern coastal province of Hormozgan.
“We defend our territory,” Zarif reiterated. “The United States drone entered Iranian territory, entered Iranian airspace. It was shot down, because even without entering Iranian airspace, it could spy over our entire territory … it not only threatened our territorial integrity, but it was threatening our national security.”
“We will not tolerate foreigners coming 6,000 miles from their shores to our shores and threatening our national sovereignty and stability,” he added.
Zarif also rejected claims that Iran was interfering with shipping in its southern waters, saying the Strait of Hormuz is essential to the country’s economy and that the Islamic Republic has long provided security for shipping there.
“We have 1,500 miles of coast line with the Persian Gulf,” he said. “I mean, we control the Strait of Hormuz. These waters are our lifeline, so their security is of paramount importance for Iran.”
Referring to a recent US plan to create an international military coalition supposedly to safeguard strategic waters off Iran, Zarif slammed Washington for making the region insecure.
“The United States is intervening in order to make these waters insecure for Iran. You cannot make these waters insecure for one country and secure it for others,” he said.