Britain told Iran on Monday not to underestimate the resolve of the United States, warning that if American interests were attacked then the administration of President Donald Trump would retaliate.
"I would say to the Iranians: Do not underestimate the resolve on the U.S. side," Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.
"They don't want a war with Iran. But if American interests are attacked, they will retaliate. And that is something that the Iranians needs to think about very, very carefully."
On Sunday, Trump issued a new threat to Tehran, tweeting that a conflict would be the "official end" of Iran, as Saudi Arabia warned it stood ready to respond with "all strength" and said it was up to Iran to avoid war.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posted his own message Monday on Twitter, saying Trump had been "goaded" into "genocidal taunts." Zarif wrote that Trump "hopes to achieve what Alexander (the Great), Genghis (Khan) & other aggressors failed to do. Iranians have stood tall for a millennia while aggressors all gone."
The heightened rhetoric follows last week's attacks on Saudi oil assets and the firing of a rocket into Baghdad's heavily fortified "Green Zone" on Sunday, home to government buildings and foreign embassies.
Iranian officials have denied involvement in the tanker attacks, saying Tehran's enemies carried them out to lay the groundwork for war against Iran. U.S. officials, however, are concerned that Tehran may have passed naval combat expertise onto proxy forces in the region.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now