21:11 GMT16 May 2021
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    Tensions between the United States and Iran escalated beyond the war of words earlier in May after Washington sent an aircraft carrier and its battle group along with a fleet of bombers to the region.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has launched a stinging rebuke against US President Donald Trump who said Iran would see its "official end" should it put up a fight against the United States.

    Comparing Donald Trump with bellicose rulers of the past such as Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great, Zarif said Iranians "have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone".

    "Economic terrorism and genocidal taunts won't 'end Iran'," the diplomat tweeted on Monday.

    The so-called 'B-Team' apparently refers to US National Security Advieor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman.

    His tweet appears to have come in response to Donald Trump's recent warning that it would be the "official end of Iran" if the Islamic Republic "wants to fight".

    This fiery exchange raised concerns from the European Union. Maja Kocijancic, a spokesperson for the European External Action Service, stressed on Monday that further destabilisation should be avoided in the Middle East, calling on the powers to take steps toward calming down tensions and refraining from provocations. 

    Over the weekend, US warships conducted drills in the Arabian Sea, including air-to-air training, steaming in formation and maneuvering. It came following the US' deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force near Iran in response to what Washington called a potential threat from Tehran.

    US-Iran relations have been patchy ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but last year's US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and the introduction of harsh economic sanctions against Tehran further heightened tensions. 

    However, Donald Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to disengage his country from costly overseas conflicts, is said to be favouring direct talks with Tehran as the best way forward. Zarif, for his part, has also stated that Iran is not seeking a military confrontation with anyone.


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