Iran Says US Won’t Start War Because of Counterattacks on Israel

Could the US end up battling Iran at sea? US Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jordan Crouch/Released.

Tensions between the United States and Iran are high—with the Americans sending an aircraft carrier strike group and a Patriot anti-missile battery to the region due to the Iranian threat—but it’s Israel who would be attacked in a US-Iran confrontation according to a key Iranian legislator. Iranian Parliament’s Vice-Speaker Ali Motahhari was quoted by the Fars News Agency as saying that the US is “not ready for a war, specially when Israel is within our range.”

Iran has long verbally assailed Israel and has even written that Israel “should be wiped off the earth” on a missile during a test in 2016, as reported by Fars at the time. With the US being a key ally of Israel, a US-Iran war could be used as an excuse by Iran to attack Israel in response given that the US homeland is believed to be well out of Iran’s missile range.

The latest tensions between the US and Iran come as Tehran has started to withdraw from the global nuclear deal in response to a failure of Europe to mitigate US sanctions on Iran. The US Defense Department on Friday announced on their website that the Patriot battery and a marine transport ship would be joining an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force in the Middle East region “in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests.”

The Defense Department press release went on to say that they continue to “closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime, their military and proxies… The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region.”

One day earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also emphasized that the US is not seeking to engage Iran militarily. He also made it clear that the US was ready to do so if necessary.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has engaged in an escalating series of threatening actions and statements in recent weeks,” said Pompeo in a State Department press release. “The response of the United States and our partners and allies has been clear: We do not seek war… The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response.”

Such Iranian action would not be unprecedented. In the last four decades, the Islamic Republic has directly, or via terror proxy, attacked US interests on multiple occasions. Pompeo noted that Iran’s history of “killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities, and taking American hostages is a constant reminder that we must defend ourselves.”

Pompeo later warned Iran in the press release but also offered them a way out. Said the US Secretary of State, “Our restraint to this point should not be mistaken by Iran for a lack of resolve. To date the regime’s default option has been violence, and we appeal to those in Tehran who see a path to a prosperous future through de-escalation to modify the regime’s behavior. “

(By Joshua Spurlock,, May 12, 2019)

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