Iran President rules out negotiations with US

President Donald Trump warned Iran early on Monday not to threaten the United States again or it'll face its "official end", shortly after a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The administration officials held a similar briefing, also behind closed doors, for the full Senate later on Tuesday.

The competing closed-door sessions Tuesday, unusual and potentially polarizing, come after weeks of escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf that have raised alarms over a possible military confrontation with Iran.

Trump did not elaborate further, nor did the White House.

On Tuesday, Patrick Shanahan, the acting USA defence secretary, said while the threat posed by Iran in the region remained high, the potential for attacks on United States nationals had been "put on hold".

In comments broadcast on state television, Rouhani said that Iran would "not bow to bullying powers".

He cautioned that the lack of attacks on Americans doesn't mean the threats have gone away.

The Trump administration has evacuated non-essential personnel from Iraq, amid unspecified threats the administration says are linked to Iran.

"It's unclear exactly what prompted Trump's posting, but news outlets reported explosions in Iraq's capital and that a rocket launcher was discovered in eastern Baghdad, an area that is home to Iranian-backed Shiite militias", reports the NY Post.

Trump warned Iranian leaders not to call for talks unless they were prepared to negotiate.

The California Democrat said he has received the key intelligence assessments, but he still has questions for the Trump administration on Iran.

The Pentagon has already drawn up plans to deploy at least 120,000 troops to the region should Iran attack US interests or if it begins to develop nuclear weapons. "The way to do it is through respect, not through threats", he said. Iran earlier this month announced it was partially withdrawing from the accord, following the United States decision to walk away.

"I just don't want them to have nuclear weapons and they can't be threatening us", Trump said.

Entering the classified briefing, Representative Eliot Engel, the Democrat who runs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the administration should "inform the Congress why we seem to be walking towards war". There is every indication that Washington is preparing to eclipse these massive war crimes with an even greater bloodbath in the form of a war against Iran, a country with more than twice the population and almost four times the land mass of Iraq.

In a meeting with the Ulema and seminary figures late Monday, he said, "Clerics have always played a leading role to maintain the Islamic world's national interests".

Trump has communicated to his national security team and other aides that he wants to keep tensions with Tehran from boiling over into an armed conflict, the officials said.

Tensions have risen since Trump made a decision to unilaterally withdraw the US from an global pact world powers struck with Iran to curb its nuclear program. The US military command confirmed there were no US or coalition casualties.

Graham's reference to Iran having attacked ships appeared to be a further indication that the USA military has concluded that Iran was behind the reported attack May 12 on four commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Since Trump withdrew America a year ago from the pact, the USA has re-imposed previous sanctions and come up with new ones, as well as warning other nations they would be subject to sanctions as well if they import Iranian oil.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet on Sunday announced it would begin "enhanced security patrols" in worldwide waters with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Last week, the USA evacuated all non-emergency diplomatic staff from their Baghdad embassy and the Erbil consulate, and also put its troops in Iran and Syria on high alert. No-one was reported injured.

Iran, meanwhile, announced that it has quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity.

In May 2018, President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, saying it only limited Iran's nuclear weapon ambitions for a short period.

Pompeo said in the radio interview, without further explanation, that there had been "just a hint" that Iran was moving to release imprisoned United States citizens.

  • Jon Douglas