Iran says it won’t tolerate threats emanating from Iraqi soil

Tehran’s warning to Baghdad comes a day after the elite Guards launched ballistic missiles on purported Israeli targets in Erbil.

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s foreign ministry has said the country will not tolerate security threats emanating from Iraqi soil a day after the elite Revolutionary Guards launched ballistic missiles on purported Israeli targets in the Kurdish capital, Erbil.

“It is in no way acceptable that one of our neighbours, which has deep ties with us, becomes a focal point for threats against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters on Monday.

He claimed Israel has repeatedly created security problems for Iran through Iraqi soil, including by organising anti-establishment rallies and “terrorist groups” in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

Prior to Sunday’s missile attack, Iraq had been repeatedly warned both publicly and through diplomatic channels that it must not allow its borders to become “focal points for conspiracy, plots and sabotage” against Iran, Khatibzadeh said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran expects Iraq’s central government that it will end this situation once and for all, and won’t allow its borders to be taken advantage of, especially considering all the claims of improving ties to new levels that exist between the two countries,” he said, also warning Israel that Iran is aware of its movements in the region.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Sunday claimed the missile attack in northern Iraq, saying it targeted an Israeli “strategic centre for conspiracy” in the country.

The attack appears to have come in response to the killing of two IRGC members last week by Israel in Syria, for which Iran had promised retaliation. IRGC also warned of a “destructive response” if Israel engages in further attacks.

The state-run IRNA news website confirmed that the missiles used in the attack were of the Fateh-110 variety, with a range of 300km (186 miles), and were launched from an IRGC base in northwestern Iran, without elaborating further.

No injuries were reported in the attack, which happened in the vicinity of the US consulate. The United States State Department spokesman, Ned Price, condemned the missile attack, adding that there was no indication it was directed at American interests.

Iraqi officials also condemned the attack as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, with the foreign ministry summoning Iran’s ambassador to hand him an official letter of protest.

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman did not address Iraqi criticism of a violation of its sovereignty or the letter.

Implications for nuclear deal

The attack comes as Iran and world powers are in the final stages of efforts to restore their 2015 nuclear deal in Vienna.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video message posted on social media that it is “not only absurd, but downright dangerous” to continue to pursue the nuclear deal after the attack, and claimed it would “give the ayatollahs a nuclear arsenal” in addition to lifting sanctions.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman signalled on Sunday that the US is still seeking an agreement with the aim of curbing Iran’s nuclear programme despite the missile attack.

If restored, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is formally known, will cap Iran’s uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent while also limiting its use of centrifuges and its enriched stockpiles.

At the moment, Iran is enriching uranium up to 60 percent using advanced centrifuges while maintaining its nuclear programme is strictly peaceful. The country began gradually abandoning the JCPOA limits one year after a unilateral US withdrawal from the nuclear accord in 2018.

The attack appears to have come in response to the killing of two IRGC members last week by Israel in Syria, for which Iran had promised retaliation [Azad Lashkari/Reuters]

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