Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Monday that Tehran would be out of its mind to provoke the United States militarily.
During a press conference hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Salehi stated that it would “certainly not” be a smart move for any “rational” country, his included, to threaten the U.S.
He did, however, suggest that the U.S. is at fault for undermining Iran’s efforts to reach a deal with the international community regarding its nuclear program, which it insists is not aimed at producing a bomb.
“Each time that the two sides came close to some kind of understanding, mutual understanding, somehow it was disrupted,” he said. “A phantom-third party has disrupted this. But we have not lost hope.”
Salehi downplayed international fears over Iran’s nuclear program, saying that the pursuit of an atomic weapon “would attract more threats and invite more threats from the other side,” which Tehran does not want.
“Suppose we wanted to go nuclear and manufacture one or two rudimentary bombs,” he said, “who is on the other side? It’s not India and Pakistan. Seemingly, it is Iran and the U.S.”
Salehi’s seemingly encouraging remarks came just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly. In his speech, Netanyahu warned that a so-called “red line” must be drawn within the next six to seven months in order to prevent Iran from reaching the critical stage of being able to manufacture a bomb.
In his remarks, Salehi indirectly accused Netanyahu of needlessly fear-mongering.
“Iran is a part of solution for all the regional challenges and crises, not as it is depicted by some, who yearn and plan for nothing but conflict and confrontation. “It’s no secret that the Western phobia mill and fear industry is at work with its multiple and simultaneous phobias — Islamophobia, Shia phobia, Iranophobia — this fear industry fabricates simple messages, as Muslims are a menace, Shia’s are a danger and Iranians are a threat.”
He added the following:
“Israel is not a party to any disarmament conventions, including the NPT (Nuclear Proliferation Treaty), and is the major impediment for the Middle East to be declared as a nuclear-free zone. Israel is the most significant source of instability and insecurity in the region, and indeed a liability for American Middle Eastern policy.”
“Some argue that the phrase ‘attacking Iran’ is a response to an identity and security crisis of Israel, and absolutely for domestic, political consumption. Some others who believe such pronouncements are nothing but intervention in the American politics and the elections favoring one candidate over another.”
On the ongoing civil war in Syria, Salehi warned the U.S. to stay out of it.
“We wish [the Syrian government] had taken a better position…in the outbreak of the uprising. There were some mistakes committed, but this does not justify in any way interference from outside. We are not in a position…we never think, ever, to tell the president of a country, ‘please step down.’”
Salehi was referencing President Barack Obama, who, among other leaders, has called for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to leave office.
Giancarlo Gonzalez contributed to this report.