Washington (Agencies): US President Donald Trump has threatened Iran with hardship "the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before" as the United States launched a campaign meant to foment unrest in the Islamic Republic.
Trump's pugnacious Tweeter message in all capital letters late Sunday came following Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's warning to him not to “play with the lion’s tail” after the US unveiled a series of measures which amount to a declaration of war.
To Iranian President Rouhani: 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. BE CAUTIOUS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
Addressing a group of Iranian diplomats in Tehran Sunday, Rouhani said, “America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
“You declare war and then you speak of wanting to support the Iranian people,” he told the US president, adding "You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran's security and interests.”
Also on Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in a speech that the Trump administration had launched a "maximum pressure campaign" targeting Iran and its economy.
The US will pursue a "diplomatic and economic pressure campaign" on Iran, Pompeo said as he appealed to Iranians who fled the country after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, including MKO terrorists.
Pompeo described Iran's officials as a "mafia" and promised unspecified backing for Iranians unhappy with their government.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Monday hit back at Pompeo's "foolish and baseless" remarks, saying they are a clear example of US interference in the Islamic Republic's internal affairs.
"The US secretary of state's remarks, especially last night, show that he is still deprived of the necessary knowledge and understanding of the past and present of the Iranians," the spokesman said.
"Throughout history, Iranians have never accepted any foreign domination and bullying, and certainly in these sensitive situations, they will not only ignore the current president and the war-mongering minority in the US ... they will also respond to these meddlesome remarks and measures with exemplary unity and coherence."
In his Sunday speech, Pompeo said President Trump was "willing to talk" to the Iranian government if it showed what he called signs of change.
He referred to Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement in May, saying it had freed the US to re-impose financial sanctions on the country and on those doing business with Tehran.
He also reiterated that the administration seeks to force Iranian crude exports "as close to zero as possible by November 4," when the US sanctions lifted by the nuclear deal snap back into place.
"The US secretary of state's hypocritical and foolish speech more than ever...was a sign of the American government's fathomless desperation after its unilateral and unwise withdrawal from the JCPOA and its failure to achieve its goals despite global isolation," Qassemi said.
The spokesman said Pompeo's statements showed the "hypocrisy and lack of sincerity" of the current American statesmen and the long gap which exists between their words and deeds.
He touched on a long litany of US hostilities, including its role in the 1953 coup against the Iranian government, support for terrorist and secessionist groups, backing for the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in his war of the 1980s on Iran and its downing of an Iranian passenger jet over the Persian Gulf in 1988.
Under the Trump administration, the US has taken an increasingly hostile approach toward Iran. Iranian officials have said US measures equal an “economic war” on Iran.
Pompeo’s speech drew criticism from domestic critics of the administration, including veteran diplomats behind the landmark Iran nuclear deal.
His speech "only underscores the counterproductive nature of this administration’s Iran strategy and parallels efforts by the G. W. Bush administration to prepare for war in Iraq," said Diplomacy Works, an organization that campaigns for the preservation of the nuclear agreement.
"Data shows that the sanctions regime this administration plans to impose following the president’s decision to violate the [Iran deal] will hurt the Iranian people," the statement added.
Supporters of Iran likened the US measures to alleged foreign campaigns to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, spreading the hashtag #StopMeddlingInIran on Twitter.
US officials told Reuters on Sunday the Trump administration had launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest in Iran.
More than half a dozen current and former officials said the campaign, supported by Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, is meant to work in concert with Trump’s push to economically throttle Iran.
The current and former officials said the campaign paints Iranian leaders in a harsh light, at times using information that is exaggerated or contradicts other official pronouncements, including comments by previous administrations.
"Some of the information the administration has disseminated is incomplete or distorted," Reuters said, citing current and former officials.
A top Iranian official played down the campaign, saying Washington had sought in vain to undermine the government since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
“Their efforts will fail again,” Reuters quoted the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying.