US-Iran tensions: what you need to know

The Guardian

Mounting sanctions, mysterious rockets, Twitter spats and threats of force

The Guardian |

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The US and Iran have been engaging in a war of words recently, but there are fears it may turn into something more serious. 

After US President Donald Trump wrote a Twitter post warning Iran not to think about attacking the US, Iran’s foreign minister responded with a warning of his own not to threaten Iran. 

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”.

The following day, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted that “genocidal taunts won’t ‘end Iran’.” He added: “# NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect – it works!”

Trump’s tweet was prompted by an incident in the early hours on Sunday; a rocket fell in the Iraq capital of Baghdad, close to the US embassy. An Iraqi spokesperson said the rocket was fired from east Baghdad – an area home to a number of military groups funded by Iran. 

Tensions have been growing between the US and Iran ever since Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal last year. 

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again," Trump said in a tweet.
Photo: AFP/Brendan Smialowski

Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activity, and in exchange, other world powers, including the US, would lift restrictions that prevented Iran from trading its goods. 

After the US pulled out of the deal, it reimposed those sanctions, hurting Iran’s economy. 

On May 8 – exactly one year after it withdrew from the deal – the US announced that it was placing further sanctions on Iran. Iran then said that it was going to stop complying with parts of the nuclear deal.


Tensions were further heightened last week after four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were damaged. Saudi Arabia, who owns one of the tankers, said the damage was a deliberate sabotage, and the US blamed Iran.

Meanwhile, two key leaders in Iraq have asked the US and Iran not begin a conflict, as they fear that Iraq will become a battleground.

Both Trump and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani have said that they are willing to talk things out, but they have also made it clear that they would respond to any perceived threat with force. 

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