top Iranian security official said Monday that Tehran should never have agreed
to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and that the Trump administration
was endangering Israel, warning of a regional proxy war if a conflict breaks
out between the US and Iran.
Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and a powerful figure in the Iranian hierarchy, told the American network NBC News that the Trump administration’s pressure campaign against Tehran would not force it back to negotiations.
He said he did not have a “military wish” to destroy Israel, and that the Trump administration was threatening the Jewish state with reckless policies.
Shamkhani acts as the military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He previously commanded Iranian naval forces, served as minister of defense and ran unsuccessfully for president in 2001.
Asked if he opposed the 2015 nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Shamkhani said “Yes… I’m just following the viewpoints of my nation, the people of Iran.”
“There are people in my country who have that feeling,” he said.
He criticized US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal last year and impose sanctions on Iran, saying that “the sanctions campaign is not for negotiation. It’s for making us surrender.”
“As long as this approach is taken by the United States, Iran will never ever seek negotiations,” he said. “Just walk the streets of Tehran and see how energetic our people are and you will realize that [what the US has] been trying to achieve has not materialized.”
He said Iran did not seek to develop nuclear weapons, claiming they are forbidden according to Islam.
On Israel, he blamed the Trump administration for putting Israel in danger through ignorance and recklessness.
“They declare al-Quds, or Jerusalem, as the capital of Israel. They pursue the ‘Deal of the Century’ project,’” he said. “I believe that the one that is seeking the destruction of Israel is the country that does not see the realities on the ground.”
Shamkhani said that in the event of war between Tehran and Washington, Iran would have “multiple instruments at hand, including the proxy war.”
He did not identify which proxies he was referring to, but Iran supports the Hezbollah and Hamas terror organizations on Israel’s borders, and Houthi rebels in Yemen.
“In the case of war the US will be in a very terrible situation, and its regional allies as well,” he said.