Iran warning: Insider says Tehran will not watch its people suffer as US tensions mount

Speaking before US President Donald Trump announced fresh sanction against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Mr Jahanshahi told the French daily Le Figaro on Sunday: “The United States unilaterally withdrew from the [nuclear] accord and set about destroying my people by not allowing them to trade. Because the number one world power has the muscle to impose its will when it wants and how it wants. But Iran will certainly not stand idly by in the face of the suffering of its own people.”

Tensions in the Middle East began to deteriorate significantly last year when US President Donald Trump quit a 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six major powers and reimposed punishing sanctions on the oil-rich country. The sanctions had been lifted in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to breach the deal if its European signatories fail to salvage it by shielding Tehran from US sanctions.

Iran has “scrupulously respected” all its commitments under the accord, Mr Jahanshahi insisted.

Referring to Mr Trump’s promise to “destroy Iran” in a recent tweet, Mr Jahanshahi denounced the US leader’s hardball “slap and stroke” tactics, which he said “will never work” on the government in Tehran.

Tensions are running high between the long-time enemies after Mr Trump said on Friday he had called off a military strike to retaliate for Iran’s downing of a US drone. Mr Trump later said he had cancelled the strike because it could have killed 150 people.

Thursday, an Iranian missile destroyed a US Global Hawk surveillance drone, an incident that Washington said happened in international airspace. Tehran responded that the drone was shot down over its territory and that it would respond firmly to any US threat.

The US and Iran’s main regional rival Saudi Arabia have also blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers last week in the Gulf of Oman and on four tankers off the United Arab Emirates in mid-May.

Mr Trump, for his part, told NBC’s Meet the Press programme on Sunday that he would impose fresh sanctions on Iran, while insisting he was not seeking war and would be prepared to broker a deal to bolster its weakened economy, an apparent move to defuse tensions.

Mr Jahanshahi added” “The US is in an impasse, because, obviously, Trump himself does not want a war. He wants to strike a deal and I am convinced that my country could accept it.

“We need to help Trump find a way out of the deadlock – a situation he created on his own.”

Mr Jahanshahi’s views on the US tensions with Iran chimed with those of French political expert Nicole Bacharan, who said in a separate interview with LCI television on Thursday that Mr Trump’s air strike reversal showed that he was “scared” of the situation he had become embroiled in.

The US leader has been “beaten at his own game – a very dangerous game,” Mrs Bacharan said.

She added: “If I am convinced that Mr Trump does not want a war [with Iran], I think he is no longer in control of the situation because he failed to take into account the risk of retaliation.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on Sunday that “significant” sanctions on Iran would be announced on Monday aimed at further squeezing resources that Tehran uses to fund its nuclear activities in the region.

Iran has repeatedly denied seeking nuclear weapons.