Iran’s leader administered a brazen insult to the United States when he told visiting Japanese PM Shinzo Abe on Thursday, June 13, that he did not consider President Donald Trump “worthy” of an exchange of messages with him. “I do not have and will not have any response for him,” he told the Japanese prime minister, crudely knocking down his visitor’s effort to ease the spiraling US-Iranian tensions. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei went on to say that Trump’s promise not to seek regime change in Iran was “a lie” and he did not believe Washington’s offer of “honest negotiations” with Tehran.
Not content with that insult, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif suggested that an American provocation was behind the “reported attacks on Japan-related” oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. That they took place while Japanese PM Shinzo Abe was meeting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was “beyond suspicious,” he tweeted.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that behind Iran’s attempt to throw off suspicion for a string of attacks lies the discovery by US intelligence that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were responsible for the explosions on two supertankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13, just as they were for the four tankers sabotaged opposite the UAE port of Fujairah on May 12 and 14. This IRGC war plan consists of three escalating phases of aggression, targeting Gulf oil targets and US, Saudi, Israeli and other American allies in the Middle East. Masterminded by Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, it is aimed at compelling the Trump administration to lift its harsh sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports.
Thursday’s attack in the two supertankers in the Gulf of Oman signaled the start of the second stage of the program after the first failed to dent Washington’s resolve.
Iran’s war program is outlined in more detail in the coming issue of DEBKA Weekly (for subscribers) out on Friday, June 14. Click here to subscribe
Our sources add that Khamenei’s decision to throw down the gauntlet puts President Trump on the spot for picking it up. Trump has until now held to his resolve to avoid a military clash with Iranian forces in the Gulf, the Middle East or in Syria. However, the all-powerful Iranian leader has raised the stakes to prove his theory that America is just a paper tiger and Iran’s strategy of belligerence will pay off and confirm its standing as the leading regional power.
Against the first round of Iranian attacks, Trump stuck to a policy of military restraint. That policy failed to hold Iran in check. Now it has been seized by Khamenei as a stick for beating Washington. If the US does not use its might to strike back, other adversaries, such as China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong un, will follow Khamenei’s example.