TEHRAN, June 18: Iran is not seeking to wage war against any nation, the country’s president said Tuesday while at the same time stressing that Iranians will withstand mounting U.S. pressure and emerge victorious.
The remarks by President Hassan Rouhani came as Tehran and Washington are edging toward a flashpoint after Iran announced it was breaking compliance with the nuclear deal with world powers and the Trump administration ordered 1,000 more troops to the Middle East.
“We do not wage war with any nation,” Rouhani said, speaking during the inauguration of a new terminal at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport that will raise its capacity from 8 million to 13 million passengers a year.
“The entire Iranian nation is unanimous in confronting” U.S. pressures, Rouhani said. “The end of this battle will see victory of the Iranian nation.”
He added that despite the U.S. withdrawal last year from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal world powers, Iran had remained “loyal to its commitments, to ... international agreements.”
But on Monday, Iran’s nuclear agency announced it will surpass the uranium stockpile limits set by its 2015 nuclear deal in the next 10 days, raising pressure on Europeans trying to save the accord a year following the U.S. withdrawal.
Hours later, the Pentagon announced it was sending about 1,000 additional American troops to the Middle East to bolster security in the region in the face of what U.S. officials said was a growing threat from Iran.
The announcement by Iran’s nuclear agency marked yet another deadline set by Tehran. Rouhani already has warned Europe that a new deal needs to be in place by July 7 or the Islamic Republic would increase its enrichment of uranium.
The developments indicate Iran has begun its own maximum pressure campaign after facing one from President Donald Trump that deeply cut into its sale of crude oil abroad and sent its economy into freefall. Europe has so far been unable to offer Iran a way around the U.S. sanctions.
The escalation follows apparent attacks last week near the Strait of Hormuz on oil tankers, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran. While Iran has denied being involved, it laid mines in the 1980s targeting oil tankers around the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes.