Iranian Reaction to Bolton Message

May 7, 2019

Iranian officials largely shrugged off National Security Advisor John Bolton’s announcement that a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group and bomber task force are deploying to the Persian Gulf. “The aircraft carrier (USS) Abraham Lincoln arrived in the Mediterranean Sea 21 days ago, and Bolton's statement is a clumsy use of a burnt-out happening for psychological warfare,” said a spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif again accused the “B-Team” (Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed) of exaggerating the threat that Iran poses to the United States and its allies. “If US and clients don't feel safe, it's because they're despised by the people of the region— blaming Iran won’t reverse that,” Zarif tweeted.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, a military advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a former defense minister, reiterated Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz if Tehran is prevented from exporting oil through it. He also said that Iran is not interested in a formal letter disavowing any American intention to go to war with Iran. Iranian state media have alleged that the U.S. administration sent such a letter to Iran’s government on May 4.

Dehqan warned that any clash between the United States, its allies, and Iran would play out across the Middle East. “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,” he said. The following are reactions from Iran to Bolton’s announcement.

 

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

 

Supreme National Security Council Spokesman Keyvan Khrosravi

"Bolton lacks military and security understanding and his remarks are mostly aimed at attracting attention. The aircraft carrier (USS) Abraham Lincoln arrived in the Mediterranean Sea 21 days ago, and Bolton's statement is a clumsy use of a burnt-out happening for psychological warfare. It is unlikely that commanders and forces of the US military would be willing to test the proven capabilities of the Iranian armed forces.”

―May 7, 2019, in comments reported by Iranian state media

 

Military Advisor to the Supreme Leader Hossein Dehqan

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

 

Newspapers from May 7, 2019

 

Aftab-e Yazd

“Bolton’s Hackneyed Strategy”

Aftab

―May 7, 2019, front page headline of Aftab-e Yazd newspaper

 

Ebtekar

“We Warn Tehran, but We Don’t Seek War: Bolton”

Ebtekar

―May 7, 2019, front page headline of Ebtekar newspaper

 

John Caves, a research assistant at the U.S. Institute of Peace, contributed to this roundup. 

Photo Credits: Dehqan by Mohammad Hasanzadeh for Tasnim News Agency [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]