September 20, 2019 / 9:16 AM / a month ago

Senior Iranian military adviser threatens broad response to any U.S. move

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran maintained its defiant stance against the United States in the wake of attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure claimed by a Tehran ally, saying on Friday it would resist any U.S. plots against it “from the Mediterranean, to the Red Sea and to the Indian Ocean”.

The latest volley in a stream of rhetoric from Iranian officials came from General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, as President Hassan Rouhani prepared to leave for the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.

Both sides have said they wish to avoid a full-out war over the fraught situation in the Gulf region but have adopted tough postures. The United States has been trying to create an international maritime security alliance since attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which is battling a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the assault on two Saudi oil plants on Sept. 14, including the world’s largest processing facility.

U.S. and Saudi officials reject the claim and say Iran was behind them, a charge Tehran denies.

“If the Americans think of any plots, the Iranian nation will respond from the Mediterranean, to the Red Sea and to the Indian Ocean,” General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA on Friday.

“The U.S. president (Donald Trump) will face the same fate as the six presidents before him who failed to impose their political will on the Iranian nation, and Trump will join history with the same yearning,” said Rahim-Safavi, a former chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards.

Trump last year withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world power’s and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, which has faced U.S. pressures and sanctions since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Trump has pursued a policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran to try to force it into broader talks to restrict its ballistic missile program and end its support for proxy forces ranging from Syria to the Houthis in Yemen.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned Trump against being dragged into a war in the Middle East and said Tehran would meet any offensive action with a crushing response.

The United States said on Thursday it was building a coalition to deter Iranian threats. But, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, Trump wants a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Iran’s U.N. mission has confirmed that the United States has issued visas allowing Rouhani and Zarif to attend the United Nations General Assembly. Rouhani is to leave on Monday for New York, state television said.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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