Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned that his country would retaliate against the United States for the killing of its top military leader, Qassem Soleimani.
Zarif spoke with CNN News about the airstrike that fanned the flames of unrest in the region, calling Donald Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani “state terrorism” and an “act of aggression” that would not go unchecked.
However, Zarif said that Iran’s response would fall within legal parameters.
“This is an act of aggression against Iran and amounts to an armed attack against Iran, and we will respond. But we will respond proportionally not disproportionally,” he said. “We will respond lawfully, we are not lawless people like President Trump.”
Tensions flared after Trump ordered Soleimani to be killed while he was in a convoy near Baghdad International airport in Iraq on Friday. In the aftermath, the two countries have volleyed threats and comments back and forth.
The president has repeatedly threatened via Twitter to strike at one or more of 52 Iranian cultural sites, “some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture.” He also promised a “disproportionate” response. Either acts could constitute a violation of international law, as Zarif pointed out during the interview.
Zarif said that President Trump’s comments indicate that he “has no respect for international law and is prepared to commit war crimes – attacking cultural sites is a war crime.”
Iran mourned the loss of the prominent military leader with a state funeral on Tuesday. The country claims that millions attended the event and that Soleimani was being treated as a hero and a martyr by the country’s citizens.
“President Trump, after watching the crowds yesterday, must stop threatening these people who will be further enraged by his threats — his threats will not frighten us,” Zarif said, adding that the U.S. started the war that destroyed stability in the Middle East years ago.
Have you EVER seen such a sea of humanity in your life, @realdonaldtrump?
Do you still want to listen to the clowns advising you on our region?
And do you still imagine you can break the will of this great nation & its people?
End of malign US presence in West Asia has begun. pic.twitter.com/5WzYM9OBuQ
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 6, 2020
Zarif has been an important figure in negotiating a reduction in tensions between the U.S., Iran, and other Middle Eastern countries. In 2015, he helped craft the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which limited the Iranian government from advancing its nuclear program. In return, the U.S. eased economic sanctions against the country.
But in 2018, Trump pulled out of the deal and reinstated economic sanctions against Iran, as The Inquisitr previously reported. Zarif says that this move destabilized the region further, which has since increased tensions with Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.