Zarif made the statement during an interview with the CNN published on Sep. 19. The foreign minister said in a message on Twitter that his country doesn’t want war but they are ready to defend their territory.
“On @CNN, I emphasized that here’s no such thing as a ‘limited strike’. Iran does NOT want war, but we will NOT hesitate to defend ourselves,” Zarif said in the message.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 19, 2019
He said Iran is ready to engage in talks with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates but will not do so with the United States until it is provided complete relief from the sanctions as per the 2015 Nuclear deal that the Trump administration withdrew from in 2018.
Zarif told CNN what Iran has been insisting over the past few days that it was not behind the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities.
Zarif said Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility for the attack, have stepped up their military capabilities and were capable of conducting a sophisticated operation such as the one that knocked out half of the kingdom’s energy production.
Probed further, however, Zarif was unable to provide proof that it was the Houthis who launched the drones and missiles. “I cannot have any confidence that they did it because we just heard their statement,” said Zarif. “I know that we didn’t do it. I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it.”
U.S. and Saudi officials have repeatedly dismissed Houthi claims of responsibility in the weekend attacks. Instead, they have pointed the finger at Iran.
Pompeo arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the attacks and to coordinate efforts to counter Iran’s recent activity in the region, said the U.S. Department of State in a press release.
“Met with #Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman today to discuss the unprecedented attacks against Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure,” Pompeo said in a message on Twitter on Wednesday. “The U.S. stands with #SaudiArabia and supports its right to defend itself. The Iranian regime’s threatening behavior will not be tolerated.”
Pompeo had earlier called all nations to condemn Iran’s attacks in a message on Twitter on Saturday.
“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.
“We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression,” Pompeo had said.
On Wednesday, the Saudi military displayed what it said is an Iranian cruise missile and drones used in the attacks on its oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais.
The CNN Wire and the Associated Press contributed to this report.