Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned his US counterpart, Donald Trump, not to escalate tensions with his country, saying a confrontation with the Islamic republic would be the “mother of all wars”.
“Do not play with the lion’s tail or else you will regret it,” Rouhani said on Sunday, reiterating that the US cannot prevent it from exporting its crude oil to the international market.
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“Peace with Iran would be the mother of all peace and war with Iran would be the mother of all wars,” he said in a televised speech in Iran’s capital, Tehran.
Earlier this month, Rouhani hinted that Iran may block regional oil exports if its own sales are halted following the US’ withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal signed with world powers.
The suggestion, which did not mention the strategic Strait of Hormuz, was in reaction to looming US sanctions and efforts by the Trump administration to prevent countries from purchasing Iranian oil.
The narrow strategic passageway is located between Iran and Oman, through which at least 18.5m barrels of oil moved every day in 2016, according to a US energy department report.
The strait is also used by Gulf countries who rely on safe passage through the narrow chokepoint to export their oil and gas.
“Is it possible that everyone in the region sells their oil and we stand idly by and watch?” Rouhani said.
“Do not forget that we have maintained the security of this waterway [Strait of Hormuz] throughout history. We have historically secured the route of oil transit. Do not forget it,” he added.
Washington has recently attempted to capitalise on internal public discontent in Iran by launching social media campaigns in a bid to increase dissent against the Iranian government.
“You cannot provoke the Iranian people against their own security and interests,” Rouhani further said in his speech.
Trump has previously suggested that Iranian leaders are going to request a new deal, but Iran has rejected talks on several occasions.
Under the landmark deal signed in Vienna, six world powers – the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union – offered Iran more than $110bn a year in sanctions relief and a return to the global economy in exchange for halting its drive for nuclear weapons.
Following the US’ pullout from the nuclear agreement in May, Iran said it was interested in keeping the deal alive, but only if the remaining powers can guarantee that it will not face economic isolation under Washington’s sanctions.
Europe opposes the US’ decision to leave the agreement and has vowed to find ways of maintaining its trade ties with Iran.