Iran President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said the country’s response after a United States airstrike killed its top military commander Qassem Soleimani last week showed it does not “retreat in the face of America”, AFP reported. The statement came on the same day as United States President Donald Trump claimed that Iran appeared to be “standing down”.
On Wednesday, Iran launched an attack on two airbases housing United States soldiers in Iraq in retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination.
“If America has committed a crime...it should know that it will receive a decisive response,” Rouhani said. “If they are wise, they won’t take any other action at this juncture.” Rouhani added that it would not be sufficient if only Iran responded to any other attack by the United States and said that the “main response” should come from the nations of the region.
Iran’s president lamented Soleimenai’s death and said that the revenge for it would be to eliminate American presence from the region. “If America’s feet is cut off from this region, and its hand of aggression is cut off for good, this is the real and final response of the nations of the region to America,” he added.
Trump on Wednesday justified killing Soleimani, saying that he had “trained terrorist armies, including Hezbollah, fuelled bloody civil wars, and viciously injured and murdered American troops”. He claimed that Iran appeared to be “standing down”, and that no American or Iraqi lives were in Tehran’s missile attacks.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,” he said, according to Reuters. “The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it,”
Trump also urged countries to end a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that his administration walked out of in 2018. On Sunday, Tehran said it had decided to no longer respect any limits on its nuclear activities set by the 2015 deal.
The US, under former President Barack Obama, was among six countries that had signed the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015, putting limits on Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting of crippling sanctions. The limits were defined in terms of the purity level of uranium enrichment and the stock of enriched uranium.
On Friday, an airstrike by the US at Baghdad’s airport killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. Trump owned up to the assassination, alleging that Soleimani had contributed to “terror plots as far away as New Delhi and London”. He promised “major retaliation” if Iran tries to avenge Soleimani’s killing, and threatened to bomb Iranian cultural sites.