Zarif: Not confident we can avoid a war

Iranian Foreign Minister says he's "not confident that we can avoid a war" but stresses Iran won't start one.

Ben Ariel ,

Mohammad Javad Zarif
Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he's "not confident that we can avoid a war" but stressed that Iran will not be the one to start a war.

"I'm not confident that we can avoid a war. I'm confident that we will not start one," Zarif said in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation" which will air on Sunday and of which excerpts were made public on Saturday night.

"I'm confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it," he added.

Asked what he meant, the Iranian Foreign Minister replied, "That means that there won't be a limited war."

The comments come amid increasing tensions between the US and Iran following last Saturday’s drone strikes on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, which the country said had disrupted about half of the kingdom's oil capacity, or 5% of the daily global oil supply.

Last week, US President Donald Trump said that it’s “looking like” Iran was responsible for the weekend attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil supply.

Iran denied being behind the attack, for which the Yemeni Houthi rebels took responsibility.

It has long been believed that Iran is planning to use the Houthis to take over Yemen and seize the key strategic port of Aden, which controls the entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately to the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

Iran has long denied that it is backing the Houthis and has also denied Saudi Arabian accusations that Tehran provided the Houthi rebels in Yemen with ballistic capabilities.

Zarif's comments follow a decision on Friday by Trump to approve sending troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after the attack on Saudi oil facilities.

Zarif, in the interview, slammed that decision as "posturing" and "going the wrong direction".

Last week, the Iranian Foreign Minister spoke of "all-out war" in the event of US or Saudi military strikes.