Jan 8, 2020, 5:15 PM
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Iran to respond to US with severe military actions: Ambassador

Tehran, Jan 8, IRNA- Iran will retaliate against the US assassination of Qasem Soleimani at the most appropriate time using military force and the presence of US Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf is terroristic, Iranian Ambassador to China told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.

He noted that the possibility of an all-out war is slim.

"Under this circumstance, negotiation with the US is no longer an option for Iran," Ambassador Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh told the Global Times.

 What the US government has done has hurt Iranian people and people in the Middle East. We are definitely opposed to US terrorism and we are against US hegemony. We will choose the most appropriate and severe way to respond," he said.

"Our people's aversion and hatred for the US have been stirred up, and they will strongly oppose the US military presence in this region."

Amid an escalation of conflict between Iran and the US, of which the US is the initiator, I promise that the terminator won't be them, the ambassador said.

After Soleimani was "assassinated" in a US drone strike in Baghdad on Friday, tensions between Iran and the US continue to escalate. Iran has vowed severe actions in retaliation. 

The ambassador said, "The revenge for US terrorist activity will definitely be military actions."

"Currently, the presence of the US military in West Asia is illegal. We've also declared the presence of the United States Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf as illegal and terroristic," he said. 

Keshavarzzadeh noted that Iranian people are heroes who are not afraid of US threats.

But he also ruled out the possibility of the revenge turning into an all-out war between the two countries.

"We are not afraid of fighting a war with the US. But we don't want to start a war," Keshavarzzadeh told the Global Times.

Given the current scenario in the US, it does not have the ability to start an all-out war, he said. "Even if the war starts, we will be able to protect ourselves."

US President Donald Trump tweeted "Iran never won a war" Friday night. In response to the tweet, Keshavarzzadeh said it's totally nonsensical and people are welcome to refer to the 40-year history of the relations between Iran and the US.

He said even if there was a single percent room for negotiations between Iran and the US, after Soleimani's assassination that option has completely slipped into oblivion.

He also dismissed the speculation that Iran may conduct "lone wolf" attacks. "Our response in military actions will be powerful enough. Therefore, we won't seek other ways," said the ambassador.

US leaving West Asia

During the interview, Keshavarzzadeh stressed that it's time for the US to leave West Asia for the interests of the region. 

"The US presence in West Asia has brought misery to the people in the region," he said. "If the US can withdraw from the region, it will restore stability and peace."

The ambassador refuted the US' accusation that Soleimani started "reign of terror."

"Every country is able to make a list saying who are terrorists based on its own demands, but this is illegal. According to US logic, we can also draft a list saying the US leaders are terrorists," he noted.

The world is not a jungle and we should adhere to international principles and norms, he said.

Hailing Soleimani as a fighter against the Islamic State, the Iranian ambassador slammed the US allegation as meaningless to the people in the Middle East.

An Iranian woman pays homage to Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani at the Islamic Republic of Iran Embassy in Beijing. Iranians in Beijing gathered Tuesday night to pay tribute to Soleimani and his companions. They placed flowers and candles in front of the embassy.

Amid heightened tensions, Iran on Sunday announced the fifth and final step to withdraw from its commitments pertaining to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA ).

Keshavarzzadeh, however, said this is still "reversible" as long as the EU can honor its promise under the nuclear agreement.

Geng Shuang, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry, told Monday's routine media briefing that the international community should have the bigger, long-term picture in mind, firmly uphold the JCPOA, and work for amelioration in the Iranian nuclear issue and the situation in the Middle East.

"China will continue to remain in close communication and coordination with relevant parties and make tireless efforts to this end," Geng said.

The ambassador told the Global Times that Iran is able to protect China's interests "at present," and that Tehran hopes Beijing plays a "constructive role" in the tension caused by the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in the US airstrike.

"China has a very important and positive role in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)," said Ambassador Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh.

"We hope China can use international platforms, such as the UNSC, to play a constructive role in the current situation," he said.

Keshavarzzadeh said "We would like to thank the Chinese government and Chinese people for supporting Iran in many cases over the past years." Talking about China's investment in Iran, the Ambassador said Iran and China have established a comprehensive strategic partnership. "Despite rising tensions between Iran and the US, Iran is able to protect China's investment in the country. So far Chinese investment has not been impacted, but if a war breaks out in the region, all countries in the world will be affected."

Geng said on Monday that China noted that the Iranian permanent representative to the UN sent letters to the UNSC president and the Secretary-General.

"The military adventurism of the US has breached the basic norms governing international relations and triggered greater tensions and turbulence," Geng said. As a permanent member of the UNSC, China will, in an objective and fair spirit, continue to work with other parties to uphold international law, international justice as well as peace and security in the region, Geng said.

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