- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 2, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday the nation has the right to defend itself against U.S. aggression and specifically vowed that Tehran will use “whatever missiles it wants” as a deterrence against increased American military presence in the region.

In an interview with ABC News’ “This Week” program, Mr. Zarif defended the arming of small Iranian boats with cruise missiles. Such boats were cited as part of the justification last month for the movement of U.S. troops, ships and planes to the Middle East.

But Mr. Zarif argued those steps by Iran are necessary to protect itself.

“You see, we call this place the Persian Gulf for a reason, so it’s next to us, we have the right to defend ourselves,” he said. “Just imagine if Iran were to come to California coast or to come to Florida coast, how do you feel — how would you treat that?”

“These ships are located very close to our waters, we have the right to put whatever missiles we want to put on them,” he said.

Since President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era Iranian nuclear deal last year, the administration has dramatically ramped up its economic pressure campaign on Iran. And this week, the United Nations reported that Tehran may be cheating on key pieces of that agreement.

Iran has threatened that if the U.S. and its allies don’t craft a new nuclear deal within the next two months, Tehran may begin enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels.

But Mr. Zarif was mostly coy about his country’s broader strategy moving forward.

“Since they want us to continue guessing, let them continue guessing too,” he said.

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