TEHRAN, IRAN —
An adviser to Iran’s supreme chief who’s a doable 2021 presidential candidate is warning that any American assault on the Islamic Republic may set off a “full-fledged warfare” within the Mideast within the waning days of the Trump administration.
Chatting with The Related Press, Hossein Dehghan struck a hard-line tone acquainted to these in Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, a drive he lengthy served in earlier than changing into a defence minister below President Hassan Rouhani.
A soldier has but to function Iran’s prime civilian chief since its 1979 Islamic Revolution, partially over the preliminary suspicion that its standard navy forces remained loyal to the toppled shah. However hard-liners in recent times overtly have prompt Iran transfer towards a navy dictatorship given its financial issues and threats from overseas, notably after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled America out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear cope with world powers.
“We do not welcome a disaster. We do not welcome warfare. We aren’t after beginning a warfare,” Dehghan mentioned Wednesday. “However we’re not after negotiations for the sake of negotiations both.”
Dehghan, 63, described himself as a “nationalist” with “no standard political tendency” throughout an interview in his wood-paneled workplace in downtown Tehran. He is one in every of many prone to register to run within the June 18 election as Rouhani is term-limited from operating once more. Others doubtless embody a younger technocrat with ties to Iranian intelligence and former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Dehghan’s navy service got here below presidencies consultant of the teams that largely compose Iran’s tightly managed political area — reformists who search to slowly change Iran’s theocracy from inside, hard-liners who wish to strengthen the theocracy and the relative moderates between. These calling for radical change are barred from operating for workplace by Iran’s highly effective constitutional watchdog often known as the Guardian Council, which serves below Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Whereas discussing the world Iran finds itself in, Dehghan’s factors mirrored a lot of Khamenei’s. The previous head of the Guard’s air drive who achieved the rank of brigadier common mentioned any negotiations with the West couldn’t embody Iran’s ballistic missiles, which he described as a “deterrent” to Tehran’s adversaries.
Propaganda involving Iran’s missile program has surged in current weeks. The entrance web page of the English-language Tehran Instances on Wednesday confirmed a map of Iran’s missile ranges with pink stars marking American bases throughout the area below the phrases “Again off!” printed in massive, daring letters. A headline above warned Iran would reply to “any melancholy journey by Trump.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran won’t negotiate its defensive energy … with anyone below any circumstances,” Dehghan mentioned. “Missiles are an emblem of the huge potential that’s in our consultants, younger individuals and industrial centres.”
Dehghan warned towards any American navy escalation in Trump’s remaining weeks in workplace.
“A restricted, tactical battle can flip right into a full-fledged warfare,” he mentioned. “Positively, the USA, the area and the world can not stand such a complete disaster.”
President-elect Joe Biden has mentioned he is prepared to return to the nuclear deal, which noticed sanctions on Iran lifted in alternate for Tehran limiting its uranium enrichment, if Iran first complies with its limits. Since Trump’s withdrawal, Iran has gone past all of the deal’s restrictions whereas nonetheless permitting United Nations nuclear inspectors to work within the nation. Dehghan mentioned these U.N. checks ought to proceed as long as an inspector just isn’t a “spy.”
Within the time since, a sophisticated centrifuge meeting plant at Iran’s Natanz nuclear web site exploded and caught hearth in July. Dehghan mentioned that reconstruction at Natanz was ongoing after satellite tv for pc photographs confirmed new building on the web site. He described the incident as “industrial sabotage.”
“Those that have been in command of putting in some gadgets probably made some modifications there that led to the explosion,” Dehghan mentioned, with out elaborating.
A Dehghan presidency doubtless can be appeared upon with suspicion in Washington and Paris. As a younger commander within the Guard, Dehghan oversaw its operations in Lebanon and Syria between 1982 and 1984, in accordance with an official biography given to Iran’s parliament in 2013. Israel, Iran’s archenemy within the Mideast, had simply invaded Lebanon amid that nation’s civil warfare.
In 1983, a suicide bomber in a truck loaded with military-grade explosives attacked a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American troops and 58 French troopers. Whereas Iran lengthy has denied being concerned, a U.S. District Court docket choose discovered Tehran accountable in 2003. That ruling mentioned Iran’s ambassador to Syria on the time referred to as “a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and instructed him to instigate the Marine barracks bombing.”
Dehghan vehemently denied he was concerned within the bombing, although he was the Guard’s prime commander there on the time.
“The U.S. tries to hyperlink something taking place on this planet to somebody in Iran,” he mentioned. “Do they actually have proof? Why do they hyperlink it to me?”
Whereas stressing he wished to keep away from battle, Dehghan warned Israel’s increasing presence within the Mideast may flip right into a “strategic mistake.” Israel simply reached normalization offers with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
“It’s opening an intensive entrance,” he mentioned. “Simply think about each Israeli in any navy base generally is a goal for teams who’re against Israel.”
Dehghan additionally mentioned Iran continues to hunt the expulsion of all American forces from the area as revenge for the U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the top of its expeditionary Quds Drive in January. That strike noticed Iran launch a retaliatory ballistic missile strike on U.S. troops in Iraq that injured dozens and almost sparked a warfare.
Iran’s retaliatory strikes have been a mere “preliminary slap,” Dehghan mentioned. And there can be no straightforward return to negotiations with the U.S. partially as a consequence of that, he added.
“We don’t search a state of affairs through which (the opposite occasion) buys time to weaken our nation,” he mentioned.
Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Related Press author Isabel DeBre in Dubai contributed to this report