Tehran has said the United States may make a “strategic mistake” after President Donald Trump threatened Iran over reports it planned to avenge the killing of its top general, Qasem Soleimani.
“We hope that they do not make a new strategic mistake. Certainly in the case of any strategic mistake, they will witness Iran’s decisive response,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters on Tuesday.
The previous day, Trump vowed that any attack by Iran would be met with a response “1,000 times greater in magnitude.” The statement came after a US media report cited unnamed officials as saying that an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa was planned before the presidential election in November.
“According to press reports, Iran may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the US in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Soleimani,” Trump tweeted.
A US drone strike killed Soleimani in Baghdad in January. Washington is pushing to extend an arms embargo on Iran that starts to progressively expire in October, as well as reimposing UN sanctions on Tehran.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday declined to comment on the reported threat to Lana Marks, the US ambassador to South Africa, who is a close ally of Trump.
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman on Monday described the report of an assassination plot as “baseless,” saying that it was part of “repetitive and rotten methods to create an anti-Iranian atmosphere on the international stage.”
Last week, the Iranian navy said it drove off American aircraft that flew close to an area where military exercises were underway near the Strait of Hormuz, the news agency AFP reported. The military said three US aircraft were detected by Iran’s air force radars after they entered the country’s air defense identification zone.
One of them was reportedly a US RQ-4 drone, the same model as one shot down by Iran in June last year after allegedly violating Iranian airspace. The US denied the claim at that time.
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