Mohsen Rezaei, the secretary of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council, told the Doha-based Aljazeera broadcaster on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic would firmly respond to any threat against its security.
“We will never initiate a war with the United States, but the end of any war that Washington may start will be decided by Iran,” said Rezaei, a former chief commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
The remarks came one week after US President Donald Trump tweeted that he had directed the US Navy to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian gunboats that “harass” American ships, following a confrontation between US warships and Iranian military boats in the Persian Gulf.
According to the IRGC, American vessels had resorted to “unprofessional and perilous” behavior in the waters during the incident, “causing trouble” for one of the elite force’s logistics ships that was conducting a routine patrol.
Rezaei described Trump’s threat as “mere propaganda,” but warned the US that its “bases in the region are under surveillance, and we will hit them with missiles if our national security is threatened.”
Elsewhere in his comments, Rezaei referred to a United Nations arms embargo on Iran, which will be lifted in October.
“The international arms embargo imposed on us will end soon, and no one can prevent us from buying weapons from international markets following that date,” he said. “The position of Washington and the European Union on the arms embargo on Iran is not binding for Iranians and we will not adhere to it.”
The UN arms embargo on Iran — in place since 2006/2007 — will be lifted under UN Security Resolution 2231 that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The US is now pushing for an extension of the embargo through recourse to a process set out in the accord, which it abandoned in 2018.
Elsewhere, Rezaei criticized certain Arab countries for surrendering to American “blackmail” and keeping up their enmities towards Iran.
“They reject all initiatives and insist on hostility towards Iran,” he added.
Last year, Iran unveiled an initiative, dubbed Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE), aimed at promoting the security of the Persian Gulf littoral states through regional cooperation free from foreign intervention.
It followed a series of mysterious attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman and the US militarization of the strategic waters. Following in Washington’s footsteps, a number of Arab states blamed Iran for those attacks, a claim Iran has categorically rejected.
Using the raids as a pretext, the US and some of its allies formed a military coalition in the region with the declared aim of ensuring maritime security.
Tehran has slammed the formation of such coalition as a source of even more regional tensions, repeatedly reminding its neighbors that outsiders cannot safeguard peace in the Persian Gulf region.