Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Islamic Republic will respond proportionately to the United States’ assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
“This is state terrorism,” Zarif said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday, referring to the targeted killing of Soleimani and his companions, including deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump on their motorcade in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad early on Friday.
“This is an act of aggression against Iran, and it amounts to an armed attack against Iran, and we will respond. But we will respond proportionately – not disproportionately … We are not lawless like President Trump,” the top Iranian diplomat added.
He added that Trump had displayed a “lack of respect” for international law by threatening to hit “very important” targets related to Iran if the Islamic Republic seeks retaliation.
In a Saturday tweet, Trump said, “We have … targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran,” making a reference to the 1979 US embassy incident in Tehran.
His threat came after Iranian authorities said they would give a harsh response to the US strikes that led to the martyrdom of ten Iranians and Iraqis, including General Soleimani and the PMU second-in-command.
Trump’s threats drew criticisms worldwide, including from the UN’s cultural organization and the Human Rights Watch.
In response to the White House tenant’s tweet, Zarif said Trump had shown the world that he was “prepared to commit war crimes, because attacking cultural sites is a war crime. Disproportionate response is a war crime.”
He urged Washington to wake up to the reality that “the United States cannot stay in this region with the people of the region not wanting it anymore.”
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Monday downplayed his American counterpart’s recent threat to target Iranian sites and emphasized, “Never threaten the Iranian nation.”
Taking to his Twitter account, Rouhani reminded Trump of the crime committed by the US Navy back in 1988 in which the USS Vincennes fired missiles at an Iran Air Airbus A300B2 which was flying over the Strait of Hormuz from the port city of Bandar Abbas to Dubai, killing all 290 on board, among them 66 children.
Elsewhere in his interview, Zarif responded to a question if it was worth speaking to Trump and said, “It doesn’t need speaking. He has to realize that he has been fed misinformation. And he needs to wake up, and apologize. He has to apologize, he has to change course.”
Zarif’s interview came on the same day that Iran’s Parliament unanimously passed a motion designating the Pentagon and all subsidiaries terrorist following the US military’s assassination of Lieutenant General Soleimani.
All the 233 lawmakers present at an open session of the parliament on Tuesday unanimously adopted the triple-urgency motion, which amends an earlier law that labeled American forces based in West Asia — known as the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) — as a terrorist organization.