Iran on Thursday threatened an “all-out war” if the U.S. or Saudi Arabia launches military strikes against it.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told CNN that Tehran does not want war, stressing that Iran was not responsible for the attacks on Saudi oil refineries over the weekend.
“I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” said Zarif.
“But we won’t blink to defend our territory,” he added.
Tensions in the region have been high since two Saudi oil refineries were hit by drones and cruise missiles on Saturday, affecting roughly 5 percent of the global crude output.
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have put the blame on Iran for the strikes. Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump says he has ‘many options’ on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump’s Scotland resort Trump says he has ‘many options’ on Iran Trump doubles down on Graham: ‘How did going into Iraq work out?’ MORE on Wednesday declared the attacks an “act of war” by Iran.
Tehran has denied those allegations, while Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed they are responsible for the attacks.
Zarif also said on Thursday that the Houthis were responsible, but could not make a definitive link to the rebels when pressed by CNN.
“I cannot have any confidence that they did it because we just heard their statement,” said Zarif. “I know that we didn’t do it. I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it.”
He added that a military response based on “deception” about the weekend attacks would cause “a lot of casualties.”
Zarif also spoke to CNN about the 2015 nuclear deal, saying that Iran would not renegotiate an agreement with the U.S. without sanctions relief.
The nuclear deal “is an agreement that we reached with the United States. Why should we renegotiate? Why should we start something else which may again be invalid in a year and a half,” said Zarif.
“If they lift the sanctions that they re-imposed illegally then that’s a different situation,” he added. “Then we would consider (talks).”