Iran on Monday hit out at the United States for “causing tensions” in the region. The statement came after US President Donald Trump said his government was not seeking regime change and that he would welcome talks with Tehran. The Trump administration was “hurting the Iranian people and causing tension in the region,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on his Twitter account.
“Actions—not words—will show whether or not that’s @realDonaldTrump’s intent,” Zarif added, referencing the US president’s Twitter handle.
Zarif also denied Iran was seeking nuclear weapons, after Trump said during a visit to Japan that “we’re not looking for regime change (in Iran)... we’re looking for no nuclear weapons”.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “long ago said we’re not seeking nuclear weapons—by issuing a fatwa (edict) banning them,” the foreign minister tweeted.
Donald Trump announced on Friday that some 1,500 additional US troops would deploy to the Middle East against a backdrop of soaring tensions with Iran. “We want to have protection in the Middle East,” Trump told reporters as he prepared to set off on a trip to Japan.
“We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective,” Trump added. “It’ll be about 1,500 people.”
The deployment includes reconnaissance aircraft, fighter jets, engineers, and the extension of the presence of a Patriot missile defense battalion that accounts for 600 of the personnel.
“This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran,” said Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Pentagon officials said the 1,500 additional troops were in response to recent incidents in the region that US intelligence had tied to Iran’s leadership.
Trump had threatened to meet provocations by Iran with “great force". The president however said that he’s also willing to negotiate with the Islamic Republic. He says, “If they do something it will be met great force.” But he adds, “We have no indication that they will.” Still, he is not mincing his words, calling Iran “hostile” and the “No. 1 provocateur of terror.”