Iran’s regime has put out a series of defiant statements, amid the Trump Administration’s threats of sweeping sanctions and an effective withdrawal from the July 2015 nuclear deal, supported by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s high-profile declaration of an ongoing Iranian nuclear weapons program.
With Donald Trump facing a May 12 decision on whether to renew waivers of Congressional sanctions, suspended under the deal, Netanyahu told international media on Monday that Israeli intelligence had seized an “archive” of 55,000 documents and 100,000 files.
Although analysts soon pointed out that the material could concern an Iranian nuclear weapons effort suspended in 2003, Netanyahu’s performance indicated a preparation for Trump’s approval of the sanctions — last weekend the new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Israel for discussions of next steps.
The Supreme Leader’s top aide Ali Akbar Velayati led Tehran’s pushback on Tuesday, asserting:
The reason behind [Netanyahu] using these words is that the Zionist regime has lost its hope for survival [and] those who support the Zionist regime in the region have tried to distance themselves from these words due to their obscene nature.
He said Israeli officials had resorted to the claims because they had seen the victories of the Islamic Republic and its allies “while their own agents, including Daesh [the Islamic State] and the al-Nusra Front were being defeated”.
A “Surprising” Response to Israel and US
Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami added an ominous message: “I am warning the regime occupying al-Quds [Jerusalem] and its allies that they must stop their conspiracies and dangerous behavior, because Iran’s response will be surprising and make them regretful.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif turned his attention to the US, in a tweet for his English-language audience, claiming last week that Secretary of State Pompeo had contradicted Netanyahu less than three weeks ago:
On 4/12, Pompeo testified no need to worry about nixing JCPOA as Iran "not racing to a weapon before the deal", nor would "turn to race to…weapon" after. Now says "time to revisit question of whether Iran can be trusted to enrich…any nuclear material". So, which one is it?
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 1, 2018
And the Supreme Leader’s top military advisor, Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, looked at Iran’s regional rival in Riyadh:
“The elements of national power of the Islamic Republic are superior to the elements of national power of Saudi Arabia and the country does not have the potential to pose a threat against Iran.”