President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday as part of a French initiative to prevent an escalation of tensions in the Middle East, Macron’s office said in a statement. An Elysee official declined to give further details on the conversation.
Iran said yesterday it will further free itself from the 2015 nuclear deal in defiance of new American sanctions as United States President Donald Trump warned the Islamic republic of “overwhelming” retaliation for any attacks.
“Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force,” he added in a tweet. “In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.” Tensions between Iran and the US have spiralled since last year when Trump withdrew the United States from the deal under which Tehran was to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
The two arch-rivals have been locked in an escalating war of words since Iran shot down a US surveillance drone in what it said was its own airspace, a claim the US vehemently denies.
Tehran was defiant yesterday, saying the new US sanctions against Iran showed Washington was “lying” about an offer of talks. “At the same time as you call for negotiations you seek to sanction the foreign minister? It’s obvious that you’re lying,” Rouhani said. A top security official said Iran would “resolutely” abandon more commitments under the nuclear deal on July 7.
Trump yesterday lashed out at the “ignorant and insulting statement” released by Iran after the US president announced fresh sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. The tweets came after Rouhani said the move proved the White House was “mentally retarded”.
Trump said it showed Iran’s leaders “do not understand reality”. He also said it suggested the US is lying about wanting dialogue. Trump said the only thing Iran understood was “strength and power, and the USA is by far the most powerful military force in the world”.
The US has alleged Ayatollah Khamenei has access to vast wealth which helps fund the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRCG). In a 2018 op-ed, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested it was as much as $95bn (£75bn) and was “used as a slush fund for the IRGC”. But Rouhani questioned why the US would single out a man who he said only “owns a Hoseyniyyeh (prayer venue) and a simple house”, calling the sanctions “outrageous and idiotic”.