US President Donald Trump has threatened to launch an attack “1,000 times greater in magnitude” against Iran following claims in US media that Tehran was planning to kill an American diplomat in retaliation for Washington’s assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.
In a tweet on Monday, Trump referred to “press reports” that Iran “may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States” to avenge the assassination of General Soleimani in Iraq in January.
Trump further said, “Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”
Politico news magazine first made the allegations citing unnamed US officials. It claimed Iran was weighing to assassinate US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks before the American presidential election in November.
Iran, however, dismissed the allegations as lies, with its Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeid Khatibzadeh advising American officials to “stop resorting to hackneyed and outworn methods to create Iranophobic atmosphere on the international arena.”
“As a responsible member of the international community, the Islamic Republic of Iran has demonstrated its constant commitment to the international diplomatic principles and customs,” Khatibzadeh said.
“On the contrary, it is the US and the incumbent regime at the White House that, particularly in recent years, has ignored the basic diplomatic principles and has become a rogue regime in the international arena,” he added.
Khatibzadeh later posted a tweet in which he advised American journalists to beware of falling victim to US politicians’ efforts “to peddle lies.”
On Trump’s order, General Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units, and a group of their companions lost their lives in a US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport on January 3.
The two commanders were highly popular because of the key role they played in eliminating the US-sponsored Daesh terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
Vowing “harsh revenge” against the US, Iran launched missile attacks against the US-run Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq days later, in what top Iranian authorities described as a “first slap.”
According to the US Defense Department, more than 100 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” during the counterstrikes. The IRGC, however, says Washington uses the term to mask the number of the Americans who perished during the retaliation.
Iran said in June that Interpol Red Notices had also been issued for the prosecution of dozens of US military and political officials, including Trump, over their role in General Soleimani’s assassination, which the UN has slammed as “unlawful.”
Tensions have been running high between Tehran and Washington since May 2018, when Trump pulled the US out of a multilateral nuclear deal and unleashed a tough campaign of sanctions and military threats against the Islamic Republic.
Last week, the Iranian military announced in a statement that it had intercepted three US aircraft after they intruded into the country’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and flew close to an area where military exercises were underway near the Strait of Hormuz in violation of international regulations.