Iranian Comments on U.S. Allegations

June 5, 2019
Updated

On May 14, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran was not interested in a war with the United States. But he was dismissive of President Donald Trump’s openness to negotiations. He and other hardliners argued that U.S. outreach was deceptive. “We will not negotiate with U.S. officials because there is no point negotiating, and it is detrimental,” he said on May 29. 

But President Hassan Rouhani and others in the centrist camp kept the door open to diplomacy. “We are for logic and talks if (the other side) sits respectfully at the negotiating table and follows international regulations, not if it issues an order to negotiate,” said Rouhani on June 1.  

Iranian military leaders were openly skeptical about prospects for armed conflict. “We believe rational Americans and their experienced commanders will not let their radical elements lead them into a situation from which it would be very difficult to get out, and that is why they will not enter a war, said Brigadier General Hassan Seifi on May 25.

The comments came in response to National Security Advisor John Bolton's announcement on May 5 of the deployment of additional U.S. forces to the Middle East “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” The Trump administration claimed the move was in response to an increased threat to U.S. interests in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Persian Gulf. In subsequent weeks, the two sides blamed each other for increasing tensions and raising the prospects of an armed conflict. The following are Iranian comments on the U.S. allegations. 

 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 

“We do not doubt your sincerity and goodwill. However, regarding what you mentioned about the President of the U.S., I do not consider Trump as a person worth exchanging any message with and I have no answer for him, nor will I respond to him in the future.”

"Our problem with the United States is not about regime change. Because even if they intend to do pursue that, they won’t be able to achieve it; just as previous U.S. presidents tried to destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran during the past 40 years, and failed. What Trump says, that he is not after regime change, is a lie. For, if he could do so, he would. However, he is not capable of doing it.”

"The Islamic Republic of Iran negotiated for 5, 6 years with the United States and the Europeans—the P 5+1—which led to an agreement. But the United States disregarded and breached this definite agreement. So, what common sense would once again allow negotiations with a state that has thrown away everything that was agreed upon?"

—June 13, 2019, in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

 

“The enemy’s plots appear in many forms and kinds. At times, they threaten. At times, they entice. An example is the recent sly remark made by the president of the United States, who recently declared that Iran can make great advances even with the current leadership. This means: ‘Current leaders of Iran! We don’t want to overthrow you.’ This is a sly political game. 

Wherever the Americans meddle in, it leads to war, fratricide, sedition, exploitation, colonization, or mortification. The United States’ meddling is ominous. They should not meddle, we know how to carry on. We know what we have to do. 

—June 4, 2019, in a speech commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini 

 

“By returning to the negotiation table, they mean we negotiate with the U.S. We will not negotiate with U.S. officials. Because there is no point negotiating and it is detrimental.” 

“Otherwise we have no problems negotiating with others or with Europeans. In negotiating with others and with Europeans, our lives only concern is the issue to be negotiated.” 

“We will not negotiate on the core issues of the Revolution. Negotiations on this issue implies trading; that is, they mean we give up on our defensive capabilities. We will not negotiate our military capability.” 

“The U.S.’s tactic to enhance their strategy of pressuring Iran. They want to cash in on the pressures through negotiation.” 

“The U.S. targets assets of a country by pressuring it; to further their goal, they employ pressure as a means. They also have a tactic and that is negotiation.” 

“They pressure until the adversary gets tired, and then propose to negotiate. This negotiation is complementary to the pressure and aims to cash in on the pressures. They pressure and then propose to negotiate. This is what negotiation means to them. Their strategy is not negotiation. It is pressure. Negotiation is part of the pressure strategy.” 

“The counter measure for us is to use our own means of pressures to contend their pressure. However, if we are deceived by their call for negotiations and consider our means of pressures unnecessary, we would slip and that equals absolute defeat.” 

“When you do not use your means of pressure, the enemy will relax and continue pressuring.” 

“There is consensus among executive officials that negotiating with the United States is absolutely not advised. Not just negotiating with the current government; the Obama administration was not fundamentally different from the current government. It had a different appearance, but the same nature. We won’t be deceived by U.S. tricks.” 

—May 29, 2019, in an address to academics 

 

 

President Hassan Rouhani 

“We are for logic and talks if (the other side) sits respectfully at the negotiating table and follows international regulations, not if it issues an order to negotiate.” 

“The same enemy which declared its aim last year to destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran today explicitly states that it does not want to do anything to (our) system. If we remain hopeful in the war with America, we will win.” 

—June 1, 2019, in an address to a group of athletes (via Reuters) 

 

“In my visit last year to the United Nations, five well-known world leaders approached us to mediate a negotiation with U.S. President. Their State Department also sent requests to us eight times, but today is not the time of negotiation at all, but resistance and steadfastness.” 

“To reach our high goals and reduce problems, we all need to be united and unanimous and feel that we are at an economic war in which we need to help each other.” 

—May 20, 2019, in a meeting with clerics and seminary students 

 

“We are ready to negotiate, within the boundaries of JCPOA. It is not us who has left the negotiating table.” 

“We will not start breaching commitments and waging any war, but we will not give in to bullying either.” 

May 8, 2019, in a televised address announcing an end to some commitments of the nuclear deal 

 

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif 

"Mr. Trump himself has announced that the U.S. has launched an economic war against Iran. The only solution for reducing tensions in this region is stopping that economic war." 

The U.S. "cannot expect to stay safe" after launching an economic war against Tehran.

"Whoever starts a war with us will not be the one who finishes it." 

 

June 10, 2019, in a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas according to the Associated Press

 

 

If the objective of President Trump is to impose pressure on normal Iranians, on ordinary Iranians, he is certainly achieving that, but he will not achieve his policy objectives through pressure on the Iranians." 

“The only thing that works with Iran is respect.” 

“Trump: The Art of the Deal- This may work in a real estate market. It does not work in dealing with Iran. It may work even within dealing with other countries, for a brief period, not for long term, but it doesn't work with Iran for a brief period, or in medium or long.” 

"I've said it before, threats against Iran never work, Never threaten an Iranian. Try respect, that may work." 

"I like to keep President Trump guessing because he likes everybody in the world to keep on guessing about what is happening in the United States." 

"If the United States decides to cause so much pain on the Iranian people by imposing economic warfare, by engaging in economic terrorism against Iran, then there will be consequences." 

"We don't differentiate between economic war and military war. The U.S. is engaged in war against us, and a war is painful to our participants. We have a very clear notion that in a war, nobody wins. In war, everybody loses the loss of some will be greater than the loss of others." 

"All options are on the table belongs to the time when the use of force was legal, and that is about 100 years ago. What we say is that we exercise our self-defense. Self-defense is allowed. President Trump has announced that he is engaged in a war and economic war against Iran, and we have an obligation to defend our people against that economic war." 

—June 2, 2019, in an interview with ABC News

 

“The Americans have made such allegations to justify their hostile policies and to raise tensions in the Persian Gulf.” 

“Increased U.S. presence in our region is extremely dangerous and it threatens international peace and security, and this should be addressed.” 

—May 25, 2019, to IRNA, according to Reuters 

 

 

“In today’s meeting we discussed regional issues and the dangers of the policies, extremist individuals in the American government and the region are trying to impose on the region.” 

May 14, 2019, to IRNA (via Reuters) 

 

Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi 

The U.S. policy of maximum pressure against Iran has failed. None of the Trump administration’s unjust demands has been met, and I can assure you that pressure will not work. So, what has the maximum-pressure policy accomplished? It has isolated the United States in the international arena and created yet more division between America and its allies. The policy has also stoked resentment toward the United States among Iranians from all walks of life. Yes, the illegal sanctions have hurt the Iranian people, but the sanctions have not changed Iran’s policies. 

Throughout history, Iranians have always resisted the imposition of others’ will and have survived for millennia. That is self-evident to any historian. The language of threats and intimidation is anathema to Iranians, who have always demonstrated that respect begets respect. 

—May 24, 2019, in an op-ed in The Washington Post 

 

"These are all psychological warfare in our opinion. We are not in the business of trying to create conflict in our neighborhood, because nobody is going to have benefit from such a conflict in our region except for a few -- as I explained earlier -- some people in Washington and some countries in our neighborhood.” 

"Iran is having great relations with our neighbors. Iran is in the Persian Gulf area, we are not in Gulf of Mexico, so these questions (about Trump's warning) should be directed to those people who have come to our neighborhood from thousands of miles. So we are there, we are protecting our interest in our neighborhood and we are protecting the safety and security of the Persian Gulf area." 

"The policy of maximum pressure and the offer of a dialogue are mutually exclusive. They cannot expect Iran to accept an offer under pressure. Why? The policy of maximum pressure is creating problems for the Iranian people. We cannot accept a dialogue based on coercion, based on intimidation and threats." 

May 14, 2019, in an interview with CNN 

 

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi 

“It was only necessary to wait one week until the claim of the president of America about talks with Iran were proven to be hollow. The American policy of maximum pressure is a defeated policy.” 
—June 8, 2019, according to Reuters 

 

“We currently see no prospect of negotiations with America.” 

“Iran pays no attention to words; What matters to us is a change of approach and behavior.” 

May 28, 2019, in response to President Trump’s openness to talks with Iran 

 

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, chairman of Parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee 

“Under no circumstance will we enter a war (with the United States)” 

“No group can announce that it has entered a proxy war from Iran’s side.” 

—May 22, 2019, to ILNA, according to AP 

 

 

Military Officials 

 

General Morteza Qorbani 

“America...is sending two warships to the region. If they commit the slightest stupidity, we will send these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes using two missiles or two new secret weapons.” 

—May 25, 2019, to Mizan news agency (via Reuters) 

 

Brigadier General Hassan Seifi 

“We believe rational Americans and their experienced commanders will not let their radical elements lead them into a situation from which it would be very difficult to get out, and that is why they will not enter a war.” 

—May 25, 2019, to Mehr news agency via Reuters

 

Armed Forces Command Political Deputy Rasoul Sanai-Rad 

“The actions of American leaders in exerting pressure and launching sanctions ... while speaking of talks, is like holding a gun at someone and asking for friendship and negotiations.” 

—May 17, 2019, to Mehr news agency via Reuters

 

Military Advisor to the Supreme Leader Hossein Dehqan 

“Their [American] reluctance [to strike Iran] emanates from their inability to trigger chaos and tension in the region, or probably [their inability] to take military action against Iran whether in the form of a limited action or by attacking some centres or bases.” 

“There is no need for the Islamic Republic of Iran to be waiting for, or interested to receive such a letter from the Americans [disavowing any intention to attack Iran].” 

“In military analyses, some people argue that deployment of troops and facilities means preparedness for war and combat.” 

“They themselves know that in such a crisis, if someone pulls the trigger first, that shooting will not be limited to a specified location or region.” 

“Blocking the Strait of Hormuz is not outside the capability of the Islamic Republic of Iran. What the Islamic Republic of Iran has always been saying is that the Strait of Hormuz should be open to all, and that if they are going to impose restrictions on using it, naturally the sphere of this restriction will include others as well. Therefore, if restrictions are slapped on [Iran’s] oil exports, and if we are supposed to lose our sovereignty over this strategic passageway, or if it no longer serves our interests, the Islamic Republic [of Iran] will definitely use this strait as a tool.” 

―May 7, 2019, in a television interview with Al-Araby 

 

IRGC Deputy for Parliamentary Affairs Mohammad Saleh Jokar 

“Even our short-range missiles can easily reach (U.S.) warships in the Persian Gulf.” 

“America cannot afford the costs of a new war, and the country is in a bad situation in terms of manpower and social conditions.” 

May 17, 2019, to Fars News Agency via Reuters

Updated