US threatens Iran with historic 'consequences'
US president Donald Trump, responding Tehran's threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, has warned Iran to never threaten the US again.
"Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence & death," Trump tweeted, referring to Iran's president Hassan Rouhani.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in turn, said Iran's leaders resemble "the mafia more than a government." He lambasted Iranian religious leaders as "hypocritical holy men" who amass wealth through corruption and exploitation of Iran's people.
"And not many people know this, but the Ayatollah Khamenei has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, worth $95 billion. That wealth is untaxed, it is ill-gotten, and it is used as a slush fund for the IRGC," the secretary of state said.
He also said that the US not afraid to sanction top-ranking leaders of the Iranian regime and put maximum pressure on them. In addition, Pompeo asked all nations to join their pressure campaign.
Pompeo added that the President said that he is prepared to do that with the leadership in Iran, but not until such time as there are demonstrable, tangible, irreversible changes in the Iranian regime that they don’t see happening today.
Senior research fellow of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Sazhin, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, said that the current aggravation of US-Iran relations is a consequence of the collapse of the nuclear deal. "Iran is trying to oppose something to the new financial and economic sanctions of the US. Therefore, of course, the tension is increasing," the expert said.
In his opinion, Iran's sharp response has also been due to the fact that after the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, the countries remaining in the deal, including Russia and China, can do nothing to ensure the life of the JCPOA. "Iran understands it perfectly, and this is its ideological reaction," the senior research fellow of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences explained.
Speaking about the Iranian authorities' threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, the expert recalled that in 2011 Iran had already said about it. "According to different data, about 40% of oil transported by tankers passes through the Strait of Hormuz. So, of course, this is a very important route. In principle, it is not technically difficult to block it, but it will lead to catastrophic consequences, primarily for Iran. Because all countries that either supply or receive these 40% of oil will call Iran their main enemy and the cause of all disasters. In addition, it can provoke very serious hostilities, because the US fleet is concentrated in the Persian Gulf," the expert said.
In addition, Sazhin said that Iran's rhetoric is aimed primarily at the internal audience.
The director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Yuri Rogulev, in turn, focused on the fact that the Iranian authorities' statements were a response to the threats of the US to ban the purchase of Iranian oil. "As for military threats, the US, of course, will not undertake any military operations in Iran now, because in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq, they are already involved in Syria," the expert explained.
In addition, he shared his opinion on whether these statements by the US and Iran could lead to serious consequences. "We know that multilateral negotiations are under way both on Iran's nuclear deal and US sanctions, so we cannot say that they will lead to nothing. It appears as an element of such pressure, and accordingly, Iran must respond to it," the director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences said.
Talking about how important the support or refusal of European countries could be in the current situation, he stressed that officials are in favor of keeping the deal and against sanctions. "But the United States is imposing its sanctions, which can affect European companies. So private business may abandon some programs, because European business has much more significant commercial interests in the US market," Yury Rogulev concluded.