Trump fires off explosive threat to Iran's leader: 'BE CAUTIOUS!'
Iranian foreign minister responds with own all-caps warning to American president
U.S. President Donald Trump warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani late Sunday that he will face dire consequences for threatening the United States.
Trump tweeted about the dangers to Iran of making hostile threats after Rouhani said Sunday "America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars." Trump responded with this tweet:
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!—@realDonaldTrump
Within hours, Iranian state-owned news agency IRNA dismissed Trump's tweet, describing it as a "passive reaction" to Rouhani's remarks.
The agency, a government mouthpiece, also said Monday that Trump's comment was only mimicking and copying Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who had in the past warned the West to "never threaten an Iranian."
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, responded with his own tweet on Monday: "COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them — albeit more civilized ones — for 40 yrs. We've been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!"
COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!—@JZarif
Trump earlier this year pulled the United States out of the international deal meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon and ordered increased American sanctions.
Asked at the White House if he had concerns about provoking Iran, Trump said simply, "None at all."
Rouhani had warned Trump Sunday to stop "playing with the lion's tail" and threatening Iran, "or else you will regret it."
Trump has suggested Iranian leaders are "going to call me and say 'let's make a deal"' but Iran has rejected talks.
Rouhani has previously lashed out against Trump for threatening to reimpose the sanctions, as well as for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and banning travel to the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority countries.
On Monday, the White House said Trump's tweet shows he is not going to tolerate critical rhetoric from Iran and insisted the U.S. leader isn't escalating tensions between the two countries.
"If anybody's inciting anything, look no further than to Iran," press secretary Sarah Sanders said and added that Trump has been "very clear about what he's not going to allow to take place."
Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, echoed Trump's rhetoric in a statement Monday saying he's spoken with Trump over the last several days and, "President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before."
'Hypocritical holy men'
Trump has a history of firing off heated tweets that seem to quickly escalate long-standing disputes with leaders of nations at odds with the U.S.
In the case of North Korea, the public war of words cooled quickly and gradually led to the high-profile summit and denuclearization talks.
On Sunday in California, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was strongly critical of Iran.
He called the religious leaders of Iran "hypocritical holy men" who amassed vast sums of wealth while allowing their people to suffer, part of a highly critical broadside issued as the republic approached the 40th anniversary of its Islamic revolution and the U.S. prepared to reimpose the economic sanctions.
Pompeo talked about increasing the media outreach to the Iranian people. He said the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors is taking new steps to help Iranians get around internet censorship and is launching a new 24/7 Farsi-language channel across television, radio, digital, and social media formats, "so that ordinary Iranians inside Iran and around the globe can know America stands with them."
In a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Pompeo castigated Iran's political, judicial and military leaders, too, accusing several by name of participating in widespread corruption. He also said the government has "heartlessly repressed its own people's human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms."
He said despite poor treatment by their leaders, "the proud Iranian people are not staying silent about their government's many abuses," Pompeo said.
"And the United States under President Trump will not stay silent either. In light of these protests and 40 years of regime tyranny, I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you," he said. "The United States supports you. The United States is with you."
With files from The Associated Press