REUTERS: A powerful commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday that Donald Trump should address any threats against Tehran directly to him, and mocked the U.S. president as using the language of “Night clubs and gambling halls”.
Fanning the heightened tensions, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement on Monday: “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.” Bolton is a proponent of interventionist foreign policy and was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the administration of George W. Bush during the Iraq war.
Iran’s Guards commanders have threatened to destroy U.S. military bases across the Middle East and target Israel, which Iran refuses to recognize, within minutes of being attacked.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Thursday that the Trump administration was “Working with our partners and allies to try to get Iran to change its behavior and stop its actions across the region.” Gidley, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One flying with Trump to Washington, D.C., from St. Louis, declined to comment on whether a strike was among options.
Since Trump’s decision in May to withdraw the United States from a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, Tehran’s clerical establishment has been under increasing U.S. pressure and the prospect of possible sanctions.
Washington aims to force Tehran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups in the Middle East, where Iran is involved in proxy wars from Yemen to Syria.
Mounting U.S. economic pressure, a faltering economy, sliding currency and state corruption are rattling Iran’s clerical rulers, but analysts and insiders rule out any chance of a seismic shift in Iran’s political landscape.