The United States will not stand idle if Iran or any of its terrorist activities kill American citizens, a senior US diplomat told Al Arabiya English, warning Tehran not to test Washington’s resolve.
“If Iran and its proxies engage in military activities and terrorist activities that kill Americans, they’re going to be sorry,” Special Representative to Iran Elliot Abrams said.
Abrams was speaking after a trip to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for talks on Iran and its destabilizing behavior in the region.
Although Abrams said the US was not seeking conflict with any country, the US diplomat warned that any attack on Americans would result in a “very strong US reaction.”
Any US reaction will be “entirely dependent on the conduct of the Islamic Republic,” he said.
The Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign will continue in the final weeks and months of the US president’s term in the White House.
“The sanctions program will generally speaking continue. We never announce sanctions in advance, but this is the maximum pressure campaign … There will be more sanctions coming in November and December, so you can expect that, yes,” Abrams said.
As for a new Iran nuclear deal, Abrams warned against losing momentum built up as leverage by the Trump administration, which withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal signed by Iran and the P5+1.
“If you try to go back to the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and simply throw away all that leverage, the outcome would be really, very unfortunate for the United States and for all of our friends and partners in the region and all of Iran’s neighbors.”
Abrams was referring to US President-elect Joe Biden’s previous comments that he intended to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal.
“So, our view is that the leverage is there, and the United States should use it to get a much better agreement than the JCPOA,” Abrams said.
Ties between Iran and al-Qaeda
Following a New York Times article that cited intelligence officials revealing an operation to kill al-Qaeda’s deputy leader in Iran last August, Abrams said Tehran had an interest in working with the terrorist group.
He said he was not surprised that there were ties between Iran and al-Qaeda.
“I remember years ago in the Bush administration, a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, that’s impossible. It’s impossible because al-Qaeda is Sunni and the Islamic Republic is obviously Shia so they can’t possibly have any relationship.’”
But Iran has an interest in working with al-Qaeda, Abrams said. “Iran seems to want to make sure that al-Qaeda does not disappear because some of the countries and people that al-Qaeda attacks are people that Iran likes to see attacked.”
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