A prominent adviser to Iranian Supreme leader Ali Khamenei and a potential candidate for Iran’s presidency in 2021, warned Friday that any potential US attack on his country would lead to a “full-fledged” war in the Middle East in the waning days of the Trump administration.
Speaking to The Associated Press, Hossein Dehghan struck a hard-line tone familiar to those in Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, a force he long served in before becoming a defense minister under President Hassan Rouhani.
“We don’t welcome a crisis. We don’t welcome war. We are not after starting a war," Dehghan said Wednesday. “But we are not after negotiations for the sake of negotiations either.”
The former head of the Guard's air force, who achieved the rank of brigadier general, said any negotiations with the West could not include Iran's ballistic missiles, which he described as a “deterrent” to Tehran's adversaries.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran will not negotiate its defensive power ... with anybody under any circumstances,” Dehghan said. “Missiles are a symbol of the massive potential that is in our experts, young people and industrial centers.”
The Iranian adviser, who has been sanctioned by the US Treasury since November 2019, warned against any American military escalation in Trump’s final weeks in office.
“A limited, tactical conflict can turn into a full-fledged war,” he said. “Definitely, the United States, the region and the world cannot stand such a comprehensive crisis.”
The Iranian official also said that his country continues to seek the expulsion of all American forces from the region as revenge for last January’s US drone strike in Baghdad that killed Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force.