Iran has rejected a U.S. offer to remove its sanctions against Iran if Iran calls off its revenge attack campaign for the U.S. strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January 2020.
“They constantly send messages saying they will offer rewards and remove certain sanctions if we give up seeking revenge for Soleimani,” Iranian Admiral Alireza Tangsiri told the London-based Iran International on Wednesday. “But this is wishful thinking.”
“The Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] stresses taking revenge, and the IRGC commander has said that revenge is inevitable,” said Tangsiri, who is a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval forces. “We will, however, decide the time and place for it.”
A top official also told Reuters the U.S. has made “regular offers” to lift sanctions against Iran if it gives up on avenging Soleimani.
Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike, ordered by then-President Donald Trump, in Baghdad, Iran in January 2020. Days before his arrival, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had been attacked by riotous crowds of supporters of pro-Iranian militias. After the attack, Trump said Soleimani was in Iraq to advance plans to “blow up” the embassy.
Iran has made repeated calls to avenge Soleimani’s death. In the days after his death, Iran launched a series of missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq. Suspected Iran-linked militias have also carried out attacks on U.S. locations in Iraq, including on the anniversary of his death.
The U.S. has not yet responded to Tangsiri’s comments.
Tangsiri’s indication that Iran is committed to taking revenge for Soleimani’s death comes as negotiations to restart the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have reportedly stalled.
One sticking point in negotiations has reportedly centered around talks to get the U.S. to drop its terrorism designation against Iran’s IRGC forces. Negotiators for President Joe Biden’s administration have reportedly considered dropping the terror designation but, as of the end of March, remained undecided on the issue.
Iran also admitted in March to launching missiles at a U.S. consulate in Erbil, Iraq. The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) — the official press agency of the Iranian government — reported that the IRGC had confirmed launching precision-guided missiles. IRNA and other Iranian media outlets claimed the missiles targeted a “Zionist” spy base in Erbil that had been used to plan attacks against Iran.
Iran frequently refers to Israel as the Zionist regime.
Rather than hitting either Israeli or U.S. positions in Erbil, the missiles instead damaged civilian property in the area.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller condemned the March Iranian missile attack, but it remains unclear how the attack has affected JCPOA negotiations overall.