Iranian foreign minister to Trump: Targeting cultural sites is a war crime

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, warned President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE on Sunday that the president’s threat to target sites of cultural significance if Tehran retaliates for the killing of a top military leader in a U.S. drone strike would be a war crime.

"Having committed grave breaches of int'l law in Friday's cowardly assassinations, @realdonaldtrump threatens to commit again new breaches of JUS COGENS," Zarif tweeted, referencing the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force, in Iraq. "Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME."

"Those masquerading as diplomats and those who shamelessly sat to identify Iranian cultural & civilian targets should not even bother to open a law dictionary. Jus cogens refers to peremptory norms of international law, i.e. international red lines," Zarif continued. “That is, a big(ly) 'no no'."


On Saturday night, Trump tweeted that if Iran struck any Americans or American assets, the U.S. had targeted 52 unidentified Iranian sites, representing the 52 hostages taken from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.

Trump defended the drone strike Friday as "action ... to stop a war," while Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoNPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' NPR sends letter to State Dept. demanding answers for reporter's removal from trip Trump allies throw jabs at Bolton over book's claims MORE has referred to unspecified intelligence claiming Soleimani was planning an imminent attack. No evidence has been made public substantiating the claim.

Iran’s leaders, meanwhile, have vowed retaliation for the killing of Soleimani, with CNN reporting Sunday that a military advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed a response “against military sites.”