While U.S. President Trump and his administration have repeatedly noted that “regime change” and “military action” against Iran are not on their agenda, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces maintains that Washington has been urging the U.S. Army to invade Iran.
“Although the current U.S. administration does not openly speak of a military threat (against Iran), over the past year and a half it has been trying to (convince) the U.S. Army to launch a military invasion according to precise existing information,” Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said on July 22.
Without elaborating on his “precise information” or presenting any evidence, Bagheri reiterated that Trump’s administration “has tried to convince the U.S. Army to invade Iran in recent months.”
Still without elaborating on the details, the IRGC-affiliated news agency, Tasnim, quoted Bagheri as saying, “In recent months, U.S. Armed Forces officials have twice mentioned attempts made by the White House to urge military action against Iran.”
However, U.S. authorities have repeatedly stated they are after “changing the behavior” of Iran’s leaders, restricting their extraterritorial military operations in the region and nuclear program.
Notably, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on June 7 that it does not want to take military action against Tehran, however the secretary warned if Iran would attempt to procure nuclear weapons it would be faced with the “wrath of the entire world.”
Speaking during an interview with MSNBC on July 22, Pompeo warned it would not be in Iran’s interest to develop nuclear arms.
“I hope they understand that if they begin to ramp up their nuclear program, the wrath of the entire world will fall upon them,” he said. “When I say wrath, don’t confuse that with military action. When I say wrath, I mean the moral opprobrium and economic power that fell upon them. That’s what I’m speaking to. I’m not talking to military action here. I truly hope that that’s never the case. It’s not in anyone’s best interests for that.”
Pompeo said Trump has been “very clear” on Iran. “Iran will not get a nuclear weapon nor start its weapons program on this president’s watch,” he said, according to a transcript of the interview made available by the U.S. State Department.
Earlier, long before Trump’s decision to drop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, several analysts argued that withdrawing from JCPOA would leave Washington with only two options, either a military strike against Tehran to stop its nuclear program or accepting Iran as a nuclear power.
Neither of these happened. An hour after Trump’s official withdrawal from JCPOA and announcing new sanctions against Iran, National Security Adviser John Bolton said on May 8 that the decision was not a “prelude to military confrontation with Iran.”
U.S. authorities have repeatedly cautioned that the new sanctions would impose “unprecedented economic pressure” on Iran and are seeking to impose sanctions against countries that do not cut imports of Iranian oil to “zero” by November 4.
Referring to the new series of sanctions, the speaker of the Iranian Parliament said on July 21, “It seems we have entered a new phase in which the other side [the United States] thinks it can impose its illogical and hegemonic demands on the Iranian nation through exerting economic pressure.”
Ali Larijani also boasted of Iran’s “advances in the military industry,” boosting “missile technology” under tough sanctions during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) and predicted that the same strategy in the era of the new U.S. sanctions would “shield” Iran’s economy.
Meanwhile, during his Sunday morning speech, Bagheri admitted that the behavior of “the enemy” -- the United States -- is not “predictable.”
Furthermore, he speculated, “While the enemy's main threat is economic sanctions, there could be a variety of threats against the Islamic Republic.”