Iranian Official Downplays Possibility of Military Confrontation with U.S.

Mairead McArdle

A top Iranian official on Wednesday predicted that no military conflict with the U.S. was coming, despite the Trump administration’s decision to send more troops to the Middle East amid tensions with Tehran.

“There will not be a military confrontation between Iran and America since there is no reason for a war,” said Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, according to state media outlet IRNA.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Iran of being behind last week’s attacks on two oil tankers — laden with “Japan-related cargo,” according to Japan’s Trade Ministry — in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. Navy responded to the attacks, offering assistance after a series of explosions that partially destroyed the tankers and injured their crew members.

Iranian defense minister Amir Hatami on Wednesday doubled down on his denial that Iran was responsible for the attacks, saying, “the accusation against Iran is totally a lie and I dismiss it firmly,” according to the Iranian Fars news agency.

Shamkhani echoed Hatami’s rhetoric, pointing the finger back at the U.S. “Accusing other countries has turned into a common practice among U.S. officials as they try to pressure other counties,” he said.

On Monday, the Pentagon announced the U.S. will send 1,000 more troops as well as additional military resources to the Middle East “for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats.”

“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said.

The same day, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization announced that the country plans to flout the restrictions on uranium stockpiling under the the nuclear deal signed with the Obama administration in 2015, which the Trump administration backed out of in May of last year.

Earlier this month, Iran’s supreme leader said the U.S. would be powerless to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons should it desire to develop them, adding that no further negotiations with American leaders are forthcoming.

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