United States President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to “obliterate parts of Iran” if it attacked “anything American,” in a new war of words with Iran which condemned fresh US sanctions on Tehran as “mentally retarded.”
However, Trump later left the door open for talks, saying that Iran should speak to the US “peaceably” to ease tensions and potentially lift US economic sanctions.
The US president on Monday signed an executive order imposing additional, largely symbolic, sanctions against Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other senior figures. Punitive measures against Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, are expected later this week.
Iran shot down a US drone last week and Trump said he had called off a retaliatory air strike with minutes to spare, saying too many people would have been killed. It would have been the first time the US had bombed the Islamic republic in four decades of mutual hostility.
The latest sanctions amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran followed Iran’s downing last week of an unmanned US surveillance drone that saw Trump first consider, but ultimately call off, retaliatory strikes.
The tensions reached a peak when oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf region, an attack that the US said Iran committed.
In the same context, the Foreign Minister of the UAE, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said on Wednesday that “clear, scientific and, convincing” evidence was required on recent attacks on the oil tankers.
The UAE’s Foreign Minister, who was speaking in Moscow at a press conference with his Russian counterpart that was broadcasted on Al Arabiya TV, also called for a de-escalation of tensions in the region.
The UAE has submitted the results of an investigation into explosive blasts last month on four vessels off its coast, including two Saudi oil tankers, to the United Nations. It showed that a state actor was behind the operation but without naming any country. The US and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran–a charge Tehran denies.