Iran diplomat warns of ‘all-out war’ if hit for Saudi attack
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s top diplomat said Thursday that any attack on his country over a drone-and-missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry will result in “all-out war,” further pushing up tensions across the Persian Gulf.
The comments by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif represented the starkest warning yet by Iran in a long summer of mysterious attacks and incidents following the collapse of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the accord.
Zarif’s comments also appeared to be a response to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who a day earlier while travelling to Saudi Arabia referred to Saturday’s attack as an “act of war.”
Asked by CNN what would be the consequence of a U.S. or Saudi strike, Zarif said: “All-out war.”
It would cause “a lot of casualties,” he stressed.
“I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” Zarif said. “But we won’t blink to defend our territory.”
He added that any sanctions placed by the U.S. on Iran after pulling out of the nuclear deal would need to be lifted before any negotiations could be considered.
“They’ve done whatever they could and they haven’t been able to bring us to our knees,” Zarif said.
Pompeo, who had just arrived to the United Arab Emirates, did not immediately respond.
He met earlier in the day with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jiddah about the attack on a crucial oil processing facility and oil field, which cut the kingdom’s oil production in half.
Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed the attack, but the U.S. alleges Iran carried out the assault.