Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) has rejected negotiations with the United States and denied the likelihood of a US attack, a day after US President Donald Trump urged talks while saying he could not rule out a military confrontation.
“No talks will be held with the Americans and the Americans will not dare take military action against us,” Yadollah Javani, the Guards’ deputy head for political affairs, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency on Friday.
“Our nation … sees America as unreliable.”
The dismissal came amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Trump, who pulled the US out of a landmark deal curbing Iran’s nuclear programme, has tightened sanctions on Tehran, eliminating waivers that had allowed some countries to buy its oil, with a goal of reducing the country’s crude exports to zero.
It also designated the IRGC a “terrorist organisation”. Then last week, Washington deployed bombers and warships to the Middle East, citing “credible threats” from Iran. It did not offer evidence for the claim, and Tehran dismissed the move as “psychological warfare”.
The B-52 bombers arrived at an US airbase in Qatar on Thursday night, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said, while the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday.
|The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group transits the Suez Canal on May 9 [US Navy handout via AFP]|
At the same time, Trump urged Iran’s leadership to sit down and talk to him about giving up Tehran’s nuclear programme. “What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me,” he told reporters at the White House on Thursday.
When asked about the risk of a US military confrontation with Iran, Trump said: “I guess you could say that always, right? I don’t want to say no, but hopefully that won’t happen. We have one of the most powerful ships in the world that is loaded up and we don’t want to do anything.”
‘Down with the USA’
A day before Trump’s offer for talks, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said his country will renew some nuclear enrichment that had been halted under the 2015 accord.
Iran remains compliant with the agreement, but Rouhani threatened on Wednesday to do more if the remaining signatories to the pact – United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China – did not shield it from US sanctions.
Thousands of Iranians took part in state-sponsored marches on Friday to voice support for the government’s move to scale back curbs to its nuclear programme.
State television showed thousands marching after Friday prayers in Tehran and said similar marches were held across the country.
“America should know, sanctions have no effect!” chanted the demonstrators, many of whom carried signs reading “Down with USA”.
They burned US flags and some threw fake punches at a protester wearing a Trump costume mask.
Iran’s nuclear programme, explained (5:30)
Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, said Washington’s unilateral exit had eroded Tehran’s trust.
“All of a sudden he decided to leave the negotiating table. … What is the guarantee that he will not renege again?” Takht Ravanchi said in a US television interview on Thursday.
He dismissed US allegations of an Iranian threat as “fake intelligence” and said they were “being produced by the same people who in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq did the same”.
Meanwhile, the European Union has urged Iran to respect the nuclear deal, saying the bloc aims to continue trading with the country despite US sanctions.
The Europeans insist the pact is an important pillar of regional and global security but have struggled to preserve the accord.