WORLD WAR 3 tensions have been at a seemingly all-time high since the US assassinated top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a deadly airstrike on January 3. Last week, President Donald Trump spoke about de-escalation from conflict but what are the chances of World War 3 happening, and has it started already?
Heightened tensions between Iran and the USA lasted 10 days before both sides hinted they would be willing to dial down any potential conflict. But things haven’t entirely calmed in the region since the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani and subsequent missile strikes by Iran.
What are the chances of World War 3 happening?
In response to the killing of General Soleimani, Iranian leaders and politicians issued fiery statements promising revenge.
The Iranian retaliation saw two precise missile strikes on military bases in Iraq where US and allied troops were stationed.
There were no casualties in the attacks and follow-up statements from the Iranian leadership mentioned it had “concluded” its response to General Soleimani’s killing.
Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted in English after the strikes: “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
Tehran’s message was thus clear: it was prepared to de-escalate but able to respond to any American attacks with precision.
When addressing his country on Wednesday, President Trump did not announce further military action against Iran.
He did, however, issue a reminder of the US military’s strength and usefulness as a deterrent.
Mr Trump said: “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned.
“American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent.
“The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it.”
With President Trump backing away from potential war last week, chances or World War 3 happening have dampened.
The fact there were no casualties in the Iranian strikes on US bases appears to have played a major part in the de-escalation.
President Trump did though announce further financial and economic sanctions on Iran that would stay in place until Tehran “changed its behaviour”.
He added: “Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism.
“The civilised world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime.
“Your campaign of terror, murder and mayhem will not be tolerated any more.
“It will not be allowed to go forward.”
In a letter to the United Nations, American ambassador Kelly Craft said the US was “ready to engage without preconditions in serious negotiations with Iran, with the goal of preventing further endangerment of international peace and security or escalation by the Iranian regime”.
The killing of General Soleimani in Baghdad was justified in law by the US ambassador under Article 51 of the UN charter.
In her letter, Ms Craft said the Baghdad attack and airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on December 29 against an Iran-backed militia group were “in response to an escalating series of armed attacks in recent months by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran-supported militias on US forces and interests in the Middle East”.
She said the aim was to deter Iran from conducting or supporting attacks and degrade its ability to conduct attacks.
Iran also used the Article 51 defence with Iran’s UN ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi writing that Tehran “does not seek escalation or war” after exercising its right to self-defence by taking a “measured and proportionate military response targeting an American airbase in Iraq”.