Update 10:15am: The White House on Monday blamed Iran for inciting tensions with the U.S.
“If anybody’s inciting anything, look no further than to Iran,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “I’m not going to get into the president’s strategy, but I think he’s very clear about what he’s not going to allow to take place.”
Iran said Monday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks criticizing the country’s church leaders amount to interference in Iran’s state matters.
“These remarks are a clear example of the country’s (the U.S.’s) interference in Iran’s internal affairs and exactly in line with its long-term destabilizing and destructive policies in the region, which are in violation of its international obligations,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi, according to the news agency Tasnim.
Pompeo on Sunday said Iran’s government “resembles the Mafia more than a government” and called its leaders “hypocritical holy men.”
He offered support to protesters against the regime, adding that “Iranians want to be governed with dignity, accountability and consent.”
“All those voicing dissatisfaction share one thing: they have been ill-treated by a Revolutionary regime,” the secretary of state said.
The traded barbs come as the leaders of both countries escalate a war of words that has lasted past the weekend.
Iran is irked that President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May, which afforded the country relief from heavy sanctions in exchange for curbing their nuclear program.
The U.S. will reimpose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, a move Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned against.
The Iranian president threatened the U.S. on Sunday, warning that war with Iran is the “mother of all wars.”
“Do not play with the lion’s tail, (because) you’ll regret it,” Rouhani said in statements directed at Trump.
The U.S. president hit back with an all-caps tweet ordering Iran never to threaten America again if it wants to avoid suffering “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
“Trump cannot do a damn thing against Iran,”said Revolutionary Guards leader Gholamhossein Gheybparvar said, according to Iranian Students News Agency ISNA. He called Trump’s threat “psychological warfare.”