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Iran’s Rohani warns Trump: ‘Don’t play with the lion’s tail’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (Kremlin.ru/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has warned U.S. President Donald Trump against pursuing hostile policies against Tehran, saying “America should know peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

“Mr. Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail. This would only lead to regret,” the official government news agency IRNA quoted Rohani as saying at a July 22 gathering of Iranian diplomats.

In May, Trump announced that the United States is pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers and reimposing tough sanctions.

The move was harshly criticized by Iran.

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Rohani said that the pressure has strengthened national unity in the country.

“We’ve become more united than before. Threats bring us together,” Rohani said, while adding that “we will definitely defeat America.”

He accused the United States of working to weaken and “overthrow” the clerical establishment and create divisions in the country.

“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests,” Rouhani said.

“You declare war against the Iranian people and then claim you support them?” he added at the event in the Iranian capital.

U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have expressed support for the Iranian people and “their struggle for freedom.”

Pompeo said in a recent interview with Voice of America that the goal of the United States is to change Iran’s behavior.

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“It’s about changing the behavior of the leadership in Iran to comport with what the Iranian people really want them to do,” Pompeo said.

In a May 21 speech, Pompeo laid out a list of 12 demands from Iran that included a halt to its enrichment activities and an end to its support for armed groups such as the Lebanese Hizballah.

Pompeo warned Tehran that it would face ‘the strongest sanctions in history” if it didn’t change course and comply with the U.S. demands.

Earlier this month, Rohani suggested that Iran may block oil exports from the Persian Gulf if its own exports are stopped by U.S. sanctions.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on July 21 backed Rohani’s suggestion and said that “if Iran’s oil is not exported, no regional country’s oil will be exported.”

Khamenei has the last say in all state matters in the Islamic republic.