Donald Trump has boldly declared Iran will face destruction if it threatens the US, tweeting that if Tehran wants to fight it will be the country’s “official end”.
In a Twitter post, the US president blamed his predecessor Barack Obama for helping the oil rich country become “the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world”.
“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again,” Mr Trump wrote on Sunday.
It raises concerns about a potential US-Iran conflict at a time when tensions between Washington and Tehran have risen.
“Iran. thanks to Obama, is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” he added.
If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2019
The boastful threat comes a day after Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed the possibility of war with the US saying “there will be no war because neither do we want a war, nor has anyone the idea or illusion it can confront Iran in the region”.
Mr Trump has tightened economic sanctions against Iran, and his administration says it has built up the US military presence in the region. It accuses Iran of threats to US troops and interests.
Tehran has described US moves as “psychological warfare” and a “political game”.
Saudi Arabia recently said it wants to avert war in the region but stands ready to respond with “all strength” following last week’s attacks on Saudi oil assets, telling Iran that the ball is now in its court.
Riyadh has accused Tehran of ordering Tuesday’s drone strikes on two oil pumping stations in the kingdom, claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group.
Two days earlier, four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
In response, countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council began “enhanced security patrols” in the international waters of the Arabian Gulf area on Saturday, the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said on Sunday.
Iran has denied involvement in either operation, which come as Washington and the Islamic republic spar over sanctions and the US military presence in the region, raising concerns about a potential US-Iran conflict.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region nor does it seek that,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference on Sunday.
“It will do what it can to prevent this war and at the same time it reaffirms that in the event the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with all force and determination, and it will defend itself and its interests.”