Addressing ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions in Tehran on Monday, President Hassan Rouhani said slain Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani could have easily eliminated American generals but he did not because he sought stability and calm in the region.
"Soleimani was looking for stability and peace in the region," the Iranian President said and added: "It was easy, very easy for General Soleimani to kill Americans in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places if he wanted to but he never did that".
Major General Qassem Soleimani who was the commander of the Revolutionary Guard's Qods (Quds) Force was killed in a targeted drone attack along with senior Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and several others by the United States at Baghdad Airport on January 3. President Trump who ordered the attack said Soleimani had been planning attacks on American citizens.
In a speech delivered at a conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on the same day the head of Iran's nuclear program Ali Akbar Salehi also defended Soleimani's role in the region.
Salehi said Soleimani's killing has weakened the fight against the Islamic State extremist group in the region and that the U.S. administration "has yet not come to its senses recognizing the realities on the ground".
"You must know that if necessary, my country will never hesitate to attack again, just as it powerfully retaliated [for the killing of Soleimani] once," Salehi said in reference to firing 12 missiles on January 8 at Iraqi bases hosting American and other coalition troops.
Referring to West's concerns over Iran's missile program in his speech on Monday Rouhani said Iran has used its missiles twice: Once against the Islamic State group and another time to attack American bases in Iraq.
"We have never built and stockpiled missiles for aggression. We assure all our neighbors and the people of the region that we seek peaceful coexistence," Rouhani said in his speech today.
Speaking to Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen on Saturday, however, Mohsen Rezaei, a former Revolutionary Guard commander who is now the Secretary of the Expediency Council, alleged that Israelis had provided the vital information on Soleimani's flight to the Americans and said Iran would definitely have "razed Tel Aviv to the ground" if Americans had attacked Iran.