Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 July 2019

War with Iran would 'not last very long', US President Trump says

Trump says he would not send in ground troops as Iraq's president urges all sides to "cool it down"

US President Donald Trump signs 'hard-hitting sanctions' on Iran's supreme leader. AFP
US President Donald Trump signs 'hard-hitting sanctions' on Iran's supreme leader. AFP

A war between the US and Iran would "not last very long," US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday.

And Iraqi President Barham Salih urged both sides in the confrontation to "cool it down", saying his country did not want to be in the middle of another war in the Middle East.

The US is in a strong position if there were a military escalation, Mr Trump told Fox Business Network, saying he was not "talking boots on the ground".

Last week he ordered then cancelled air strikes against Iran in retaliation for shooting down a US drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

Mr Trump said he decided it was not a proportional response after hearing 150 Iranians could be killed.

Mr Salih warned of a "storm sweeping across the Middle East" on Wednesday, saying his country was in the middle of it.

“We certainly don’t want to be embroiled in another war, another conflict on our territory,” he told an audience at Chatham House.

“We haven’t finished the last war. The war against terror has yet to be accomplished.”

Iraq's position on the border of Iran is a weak spot for the US, because of the number of American oil companies operating there and its significant military ties.

On Wednesday, Iran warned it was one day away from breaching its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal, which limits the quality and quantity of enriched uranium it can hold.

"The deadline of the Atomic Energy Organisation for passing the production of enriched uranium from the 300 kilogram border will end tomorrow," spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said.

"With the end of this deadline, the speed of enrichment will speed up."

The secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council said on Tuesday that Tehran would on July 7 take new steps to reduce its commitments under its nuclear deal with world powers.

In the UN Security Council, Iran was warned not to ignore its commitments in the deal.

A report by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres presented to the Security Council on Wednesday said Tehran was continuing to meet its obligations, but he wanted all parties to refrain from action that could lead to miscalculation.

“Recent events in the Gulf are a reminder that we are at a critical juncture,” said Rosemary DiCarlo, UN undersecretary general.

“As stated by the Secretary General in his briefing to the council on June 13, 'If there is one thing the world cannot afford, it is a major confrontation in the Gulf region',” Ms DiCarlo said.

But Joao Vale de Almeida, head of the EU delegation to the UN, said the accord was “the only tool available” to allow the international community to put limits on Iran's nuclear programme.

“That is why we continue to support it and are determined to implement it,” Mr de Almeida said. “There is no credible alternative.”

A statement by the six European countries on the council said that it regretted the latest American sanctions and the recent decision not to renew waivers that allowed some countries to buy oil and other goods from Iran.

But the statement also expressed alarm at Iran's regional activity and urged restraint.

Britain, France and Germany's ambassadors all said they regretted the US exit from the nuclear deal but that they could only keep the agreement alive if Iran continued to abide by it.

“As long as Iran remains in full compliance the UK will do everything it can to support the deal,” said Britain's ambassador, Karen Pierce.

But Ms Pierce said she was "almost certain" that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was behind recent attacks in the Gulf.

France's permanent representative to the UN, Francois Delattre, said the situation in the Gulf called for “pragmatism and cool-headedness”.

Top Trump administration officials have been sent to Geneva, Jerusalem and Brussels to promote the US stance on Iran.

Acting US defence secretary Mark Esper flew to Brussels on Tuesday, his second day in the job, to persuade Nato allies to work with Washington on Iran sanctions and security in the Middle East.

But British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said he could not envisage any situation where the UK would join a US-led war with Iran.

Also on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the “road to diplomacy” with the US was now permanently closed after sanctions imposed on Tehran’s leaders by the US on Monday.

Mr Rouhani said the sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were “outrageous and idiotic”.

He said they would ultimately fail because Mr Khamenei had no assets abroad.

Updated: June 27, 2019 12:52 AM

SHARE

SHARE