Major-General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump should address any threats against Tehran directly to him, Reuters reported.
Soleimani also mocked Trump as using the language of “night clubs and gambling halls”.
“As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to your threats ... If you want to use the language of threat ... talk to me, not to the president (Hassan Rouhani). It is not in our president’s dignity to respond to you,” he said.
“We are near you, where you can’t even imagine... Come. We are ready ... If you begin the war, we will end the war. You know that this war will destroy all that you possess,” added Soleimani.
“You (Trump) threaten us with paying a price like few countries have ever paid. Trump, this is the language of night clubs and gambling halls,” said Soleimani, who as Quds Force commander is in charge of the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas operations.
The threats are the latest in a war of words between Trump and Iran in recent days.
On Sunday, Trump warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Twitter not to threaten the United States again.
Before Trump’s tweet, Rouhani had warned the United States not to "play with the lion's tail", saying that conflict with Iran would be the "mother of all wars".
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, later responded to Trump with a tweet of his own, writing, “Color us unimpressed: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia and seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. Be cautious!”
Trump later appeared to soften his rhetoric when he kept open the possibility of negotiating an agreement to denuclearize Iran.
Tensions have heightened between the U.S. and Iran in recent months, after Trump pulled out of the 2015 deal, under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs to its nuclear program. Washington has since told countries they must stop buying Iranian oil from November 4 or face financial measures.