Daily US Times, Washington: Donald Trump threatens if Iran retaliates Qasem Soleimani’s killing, the US will target the country’s cultural sites. But the US Defence Secretary contradicted Trump comment.
Mr Espar said his country will follow the laws of armed conflict.
Targeting cultural sites is not allowed in the armed conflicts, he replied when asked.
Trump threatened to target Iranian cultural sites at least twice since the recent escalation. He tweeted to ”destroy 52 Iranian targets including cultural sites”. On his way to Washington, he told reporters on Airforce One: “They’re allowed to kill our people, they’re allowed to torture and maim our people, they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way”.
Trump’s threat created criticism because it is against international law to attack areas of cultural importance.
Two senior officials told yesterday that there was strong opposition within the administration to target Iranian cultural sites.
“The Persian people hold a deeply influential and beautiful history of poetry, logic, art and science Iran’s leaders do not live up to that history”, one official told ”, but America would be better served by leaders who embrace Persian culture, not threaten to destroy it”.
The other told they would respect Iranian culture and laws and norms of armed conflict.
But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Trump’s comment and instead suggested it would be a continuation of the administration’s attempt at deterrence and defence.
“If we need to defend American interests, we will do so,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
In another interview with Fox News, Pompeo claimed Trump never said he would attack Iranian cultural sites.