Tehran- An Iranian military adviser to the country’s supreme leader – and a possible 2021 presidential candidate – warned that any US attack on the Islamic Republic could lead to a “fully-fledged war.”
Hossein Dehghan, a former defense minister under President Hassan Rouhani, and who also served in Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), struck a familiar hardline tone.
“We don’t welcome a crisis. We don’t welcome war. We are not after starting a war,” Dehghan said in an interview with The Associated Press (AP). ” But we are not after negotiations fr the sake of negotations either.”
The 63-year-old brigadier general who was formerly the head of the Guard’s air force, describes himself as a “nationalist” with “no conventional political tendency.”
With President Hassan Rouhani prevented from running again due to term limits, Dehghan will likely run against a “young technocrat with ties to Iranian intelligence and former hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” cited AP.
He mirrored Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s stance when he reiterated that any negotiations with the West could not include Iran’s ballistic missiles, which he described as a “deterrent” to Tehran’s adversaries.
The timing of Dehghan’s warning is not incidental. Incumbent US President Donald Trump was reported to have met earlier this week with senior military and defense advisers about the feasibility of striking sites linked to Iran’s nuclear program.
Having been told that such an action could potentially spiral out of control and lead to a more extensive conflict, the president nixed the idea and instead continued the successful policy of “maximum pressure” applying further sanctions to the Tehran regime and its leaders.
Iran is clearly attempting to exert its own influence on presumptive President-elect Joe Biden, who has hinted that under his administration, the United States may well rejoin the nuclear deal that his former boss President Barack Obama signed in 2015, but which Trump unilaterally left in 2018.
Dehghan also remarked that Israel’s “expanding presence” in the Middle East could turn into a “strategic mistake.” In addition, he maintained that Iran continues to seek the expulsion of all American forces from the region in retaliation for the US drone strike that killed former Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January.
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