The remarks were made by Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, defense minister during President Hassan Rouhani’s previous tenure and former commander of the Air Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). He made the comments to the Associated Press on Wednesday that the news agency published a day later.
“A limited, tactical conflict can turn into a full-fledged war,” Dehqan said.
He, however, not only clearly distanced Iran from any intention to trigger such a conflict, but also cautioned strongly about such confrontation’s repercussions for the region and, by extension, the world.
“We don’t welcome a crisis. We don’t welcome war. We are not after starting a war,” he said.
“Definitely, the United States, the region, and the world cannot stand such a comprehensive crisis,” the military expert noted.
He, accordingly, warned against any American military escalation in President Donald Trump’s final weeks in office.
Dehqan, meanwhile, addressed the likelihood of fresh negotiations with the US and the quality that such talks could partake of.
He reminded that the US’ atrocities under Trump had made it extremely difficult for Iran to accept its return to the negotiation table. Among the rest, he referred to the US’ assassination of Iran’s senior anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani on Trump’s direct order near Baghdad airport in January.
He called the IRGC’s retaliatory missile strikes against US bases in Iraq that came almost immediately after the assassination a mere “initial slap,” and asserted that the Islamic Republic continued to seek the expulsion of all American forces from the region as revenge for the barbaric assassination.
“We do not seek a situation in which [the other party] buys time to weaken our nation,” he also said -- apparently signaling that Tehran would not tolerate any American trickery in the event of any fresh talks -- and said, “We are not after negotiations for the sake of negotiations either.”
Further, the advisor reiterated the country’s principled stance that its missile power is non-negotiable due to its forming part of Iran’s “deterrent” might.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not negotiate its defensive power ... with anybody under any circumstances,” Dehqan said. “Missiles are a symbol of the massive potential that is possessed by our experts, young people, and industrial centers.”
The official also warned about Israel’s regional expansionist ambitions that saw the regime normalizing its relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan earlier in the year. Dehqan warned that the ambitious march was a “strategic mistake” that could put Tel Aviv in a parlous state.
“It is opening an extensive front,” he said. “Just imagine every Israeli in any military base can be a target for groups who are opposed to Israel.”
Separately, the official said the United Nations nuclear agency could keep monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities as long as no inspector is a “spy.” He was seemingly referring to a case of apparent attempted sabotage last year that came amid the US and Israel’s escalated attempts at demonizing Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Last November, Iran revealed that a detector for explosive nitrates had gone off at the country’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant when an inspector with the watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, attempted to enter the facility on October 28.
Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s envoy to the agency, noted back then that the woman "sneaked out" to the bathroom while officials looked for a female employee to search her.
After her return, he added, the alarms did not go off again, but authorities found contamination in the bathroom and later on her empty handbag during a house search.