As tensions between the United States and Iran continue to escalate — with the US deploying new military forces to the Middle East and tightening economic sanctions — Iran has shown no signs of buckling under pressure, with the country’s president calling on Iranians to gird themselves for upcoming hardships. Earlier this week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that the future could mirror the hard times felt by the country during the eight-year, Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, according to a report by The Guardian.
On Saturday, a top, hardline Iranian cleric said that not only is Iran not intimidated by the heightened U.S. military presence in the region — which the Iranian government has dismissed as “psychological warfare” — but that the “billion dollar” U.S. Navy fleet in the region “can be destroyed with one missile,” according to a Thomson Reuters report.
“If they attempt any move, they will… [face] dozens of missiles because at that time [government] officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader,” said Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad, as quoted by Fox News.
His mention of “our beloved leader” was a reference to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei.
Escalating tensions even higher, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said that the country rejected Donald Trump’s call for talks between the United States and Iran, according to Britain’s Daily Mail.
Last week, National Security Adviser John Bolton said that the U.S. would send an aircraft carrier and a task force of bombers, a move he said would deliver “a clear and unmistakable message” to the Iranian government, according to an NBC News report.
U.S. officials have claimed that the new deployments have come in response to intelligence reports suggesting that Iran has been planning attacks on American interests, according to NBC News.
“We are taking this threat reporting very seriously,” one official told NBC.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated since Trump announced that he would withdraw the U.S. from the landmark nuclear agreement between Iran, the U.S. and other countries, according to the BBC. Under the agreement, Iran said it would curtail its nuclear development program and allow international inspectors to verify that they were following through on the agreement’s terms. In exchange, the U.S. and other nations would ease sanctions against Iran.
In response to last week’s escalations by the U.S., Iran said that it too would pull back on its commitments under the agreement, and would begin a uranium enrichment program — an early stage toward developing a nuclear weapon, according to The Independent.