A day after the Trump administration slapped Iran's government with new sanctions and amid reporting that President Donald Trump has considered military strikes against the country since losing the 2020 election earlier this month, a top adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned that the U.S. would risk "full-fledged war" in the Middle East should it attack Iran.
Hossein Dehghan, who is a possible presidential candidate in Iran's upcoming June 2021 election, told the Associated Press that the country does not seek a violent conflict with the U.S. but that the government would not welcome "a situation in which [the other party] buys time to weaken our nation."
"We don't welcome a crisis. We don't welcome war. We are not after starting a war," Dehghan told the outlet. "But we are not after negotiations for the sake of negotiations either."
Earlier this week the New York Times reported that Trump considered a military strike against Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant after the Nov. 3 election, following reports from international inspectors that there was a "significant increase" in the country's uranium stockpile. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported the supply is 12 times larger than the threshold imposed by the nuclear deal that Trump withdrew from in 2018 permitted.
It is hard to overstate just how thoroughly, completely, and totally the Trump administration's policy toward Iran has failed. When he took office, Iran had 102 KG of enriched uranium. Today it has 2,440 KG. https://t.co/0gsQww3o1u
— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) November 17, 2020
Pompeo made 12 demands of Iran as part of "maximum pressure". NOT A SINGLE ONE HAS BEEN MET.
Instead, Iran now has 10x the enriched uranium as 2016, and its nuclear weapons breakout time went from 12 to 3 months.
Trump's Iran policy has been an unmitigated failure. https://t.co/5Uem6EhuKl
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 19, 2020
The president also reportedly considered strikes against Iran's other assets and allies, including militias in Iraq.
"A limited, tactical conflict can turn into a full-fledged war," Dehghan told the AP. "Definitely, the United States, the region, and the world cannot stand such a comprehensive crisis."
Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful and not aimed at developing weapons, but the Trump administration has persisted in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government—most recently on Wednesday, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that any move by the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden to reverse Trump's actions against Iran would be "a dangerous choice, bound to weaken new partnerships for peace in the region and strengthen only the Islamic Republic."
Pompeo added that the administration plans to impose more sanctions in the coming weeks leading up to Inauguration Day.
Biden has signaled that he would be willing to rejoin the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran.
In his interview with the AP, Dehghan warned against other U.S. activities in the Middle East, including its support for the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates as well as Bahrain, agreements which Dehghan called "strategic" mistakes.
"It is opening an extensive front," he told the AP. "Just imagine every Israeli in any military base can be a target for groups who are opposed to Israel."