The US ambassador to the UN has said Washington is prepared to “engage without preconditions” to avoid further conflict. Iranian officials have warned the US against launching another retaliatory attack.
The US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft has told the UN Security Council that Washington acted out of self-defense when it killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
Craft cited Article 51 of the UN Charter, which outlines “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.”
US ‘ready to engage’
The US was acting “in response to an escalating series of armed attacks in recent months by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran-supported militias on US forces and interests in the Middle East,” Craft said.
However, she noted that the US is also “ready to engage without preconditions in serious negotiations with Iran, with the goal of preventing further endangerment of international peace and security or escalation by the Iranian regime,” Craft said in a letter on Wednesday.
‘Measured and proportionate’
Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi also sent a letter to the UN Security Council, invoking its right to self-defense. Iran took “a measured and proportionate military response” against the US presence in Iraq for the killing of Soleimani, Ravanchi said.
“The operation was precise and targeted military objectives thus leaving no collateral damage to civilian assets in the area,” he added. “Iran declares that it is determined to continue to vigorously … defend its people, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity against any aggression.”
Trump: Iran ‘standing down’
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signaled his intention to de-escalate the situation following Iran’s attack on US targets in Iraq, citing a moderate response from Tehran for Soleimani’s killing.
Iran’s attack resulted in no casualties, a fact touted by analysts as a key motive behind Trump’s decision to refrain from further escalating military engagement with Tehran.
“Our great American forces are prepared for anything,” Trump said. “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.”
Following Trump’s speech, Iran’s UN envoy Ravanchi said that Washington’s calls for cooperation were “unbelievable” in light of US sanctions against Tehran. He also said that the US had “initiated a new series of escalation and animosity with Iran” after Soleimani’s killing.
Iran has warned that it would take further military action against the US if Washington decided to stage another retaliatory attack.
Hours after Trump’s speech, two rockets hit Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone — where the US and other embassies are located — but caused no casualties. No group immediately came forward to claim responsibility.
The rockets were played down by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper to reporters on Wednesday. “We should have some expectation that the Shia militia groups, either directed or not directed by Iran, will continue in some way, shape or form to try and undermine our presence there, either politically or, you know, take some type of kinetic actions against us or do Lord-knows-what,” he said.
ls/se (Reuters, AP)