On Friday, January 3, a US drone strike killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani – triggering outrage and pledges for retaliation from Iran. World leaders called for de-escalations following the assassination US President Donald Trump sanctioned, but Iran responded on Wedensday with 20 rockets hitting US bases in Iraq.
The attack – carried out on Wednesday morning – saw Iran send around 20 ballistic missiles to airbases housing US troops in Iraq.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the attack was in retaliation for the death of General Soleimani on Friday.
Soleimani was regarded as the second-most important person in Iran, behind only Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah.
Now, following his death, Iran has said it will not be respecting the restrictions laid out in the 2015 nuclear accord.
A statement released last Sunday said: “Iran will continue its nuclear enrichment with no limitations and based on its technical needs.”
World War 3: Anger came from Iran following the death of Soleimani
World War 3: Donald Trump has been tweeting of attacks and nuclear weapons amid the conflict
The head of the European Commission said on Monday that Iran must comply with the 2015 nuclear deal adding her voice to international calls for Iran to help salvage the pact that US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement: “We are deeply concerned by Iran’s announcement that it will not respect the limit set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) any longer,”
“From a European viewpoint, it is important for Iran to return to the nuclear deal. We have to convince Iran that it’s also in its own interest.”
Ms Von der Leyen confirmed EU foreign ministers will hold a special session on Friday.
World War 3: Iranians mourned Major-General Qassem Soleimani in Tehran
Is World War 3 about to happen?
All eyes are on the promised retaliation from Iran, who has vowed “severe revenge” against the US.
But after the Iranian missile attacks, the nation’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter: “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defence under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.
“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
There has as of yet been no declaration of war between the US and Iran.
Many fear the recent attacks could be the start of World War 3 with the hashtags #WW3 and #WorldWar3 trending on Twitter shortly after Soleimani’s death was announced.
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Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington said: “Iran has no choice but to strike back and retaliate for the assassination of Major General Soleimani.
“But the Islamic Republic is patient and the timing and nature of that strike is not yet known to us.”
US President Donald Trump has published a series of tweets following Iran’s decision to not respect the 2015 accord.
In his tweets, he spoke of the US military being “by far the BEST in the World” and vowing to return any attack Iran made against the US.
World War 3: Crowds gathered for the funeral of Soleimani
Mr Trump wrote: “The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World!
“If Iran attacks an American Base or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!”
He later tweeted: “They [Iran] attacked us, & we hit back.
“If they attack again, which I would strongly advise them not to do, we will hit them harder than they have ever been hit before!”
World War 3: Syrian demonstrators burn the US flag to mourn and condemn the death of Soleimani
He also tweeted in entirely capital letters: “IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON!”
Mr Trump reiterated this in an address from the White House on Wednesday, saying while he was in office he would make sure Iran would never possess nuclear weapons.
He called on the UK, Germany, France, Greece, China and Russia to abandon the Nuclear accord which the US withdrew from in 2018.
The US President said: “Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism. The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognize this reality.
“They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal — or JCPOA — and we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.”
Iran has now announced its military “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian jetliner which crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard.
The Iranian government had previously repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was responsible.
The plane was shot down early on Wednesday, hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing US troops in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad. No-one was wounded in the attack on the bases.
A military statement carried by state media said the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned towards a “sensitive military centre” of the Revolutionary Guard.
The military was at its “highest level of readiness,” it said, amid the heightened tensions with the US.
“In such a condition, because of human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the military said. It apologised and said it would upgrade its systems to prevent future tragedies.
World War 3: Soleimani’s successor Iranian general Esmail Ghaani vowed revenge on the US
Will there be another war?
Allies of both Iran and the US have weighed in on the conflict, calling for a de-escalation.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab became the latest Government figure to distance the UK from US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Iranian cultural sites could be targeted.
He said: “We have been very clear that cultural sites are protected under international law and we would expect that to be respected.”
Speaking after a meeting of senior ministers to discuss the crisis, Mr Raab said: “Clearly our first priority is to make sure that UK nationals, citizens, shipping, diplomatic missions and military personnel are safe.
“We’ve changed our travel advice, we are going to be reinforcing in due course the Royal Navy protection for shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
“On a diplomatic front our overwhelming message that the Prime Minister and I are conveying to our European and American counterparts, and also critically our partners in the Middle East, is the importance of deescalating the tensions and finding a diplomatic way through this crisis.”
However, Mr Trump has been adamant the US took action to “stop a war”, not to start one.
However Iranian general Esmail Ghaani, who has taken Soleimani’s place as head of Iran’s Quds Force, has stated Iran will be taking “actions” against the US as revenge for the death of Soleimani.
Ghaani told Iranian state television on Monday: “God the almighty has promised to get his revenge, and God is the main avenger. Certainly, actions will be taken.”