Iran will respond 'proportionately' to U.S. killing of general -Zarif

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The killing of a top Iranian general by the United States was an act of state terrorism and Iran will respond proportionately, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

Zarif said U.S. President Donald Trump had displayed a lack of respect for international law by threatening Iran's cultural sites.

"This is state terrorism," Zarif said of the killing of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, in a U.S. drone attack in Baghdad last week.

"This is an act of aggression against Iran, and it amounts to an armed attack against Iran, and we will respond. But we will respond proportionately - not disproportionately ... We are not lawless like President Trump."

Trump said on Saturday the United States was ready to strike 52 Iranian sites, including some important to Iranian culture, if Iran attacked U.S. assets or Americans.

On Sunday, he said the United States would strike back "perhaps in a disproportionate manner" if Iran attacked any American target.

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Gen. Qassem Soleimani's funeral
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Gen. Qassem Soleimani's funeral
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather around a vehicle carrying the coffin of slain top general Qasem Soleimani during the final stage of funeral processions, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport Friday in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners stand on a bridge during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
An Iranian mourner holds a placard during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners hold posters of slain top general Qasem Soleimani during the final stage of funeral processions in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
An Iranian mourner burns incense during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport Friday in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather around a vehicle carrying the coffin of slain top general Qasem Soleimani during the final stage of funeral processions, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport Friday in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport Friday in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
In this image made from a video, mourners gather to pay their respects to the slain Gen. Qassem Soleimani who was killed in a U.S. airstrike, in Kerman, Iran Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (Iran Press via AP)
Mourners walk back from a funeral ceremony for Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his comrades, who were killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone attack on Friday, passing a satirical drawing of the Statue of Liberty painted on the wall of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Funeral ceremonies for Soleimani drew a crowd said by police to be in the millions, on Monday in Tehran, where his replacement vowed to take revenge. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Coffins of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others who were killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike, are carried on a truck surrounded by mourners during a funeral procession at the Enqelab-e-Eslami (Islamic Revolution) square in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. The processions mark the first time Iran honored a single man with a multi-city ceremony. Not even Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic, received such a processional with his death in 1989. Soleimani on Monday will lie in state at Tehran's famed Musalla mosque as the revolutionary leader did before him. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
In this image taken from video, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, left, openly weeps as he leads a prayer over the coffin of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone strike on Friday, at the Tehran University campus, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (Iran Press TV via AP)
A mourner walk back from a funeral ceremony for Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his comrades, who were killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone attack on Friday, passing graffiti on the wall of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. A push led by pro-Iran factions to oust U.S. troops from Iraq is gaining momentum, bolstered by a Parliament vote in favor of a bill calling on the the government to remove them. But the path forward is unclear. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Zarif said Trump had shown the world he was "prepared to commit war crimes, because attacking cultural sites is a war crime. Disproportionate response is a war crime."

Soleimani was responsible for building up Tehran's network of proxy armies across the Middle East and he was a key figure in orchestrating Iran's long-standing campaign to drive U.S. forces out of its neighbor Iraq.

Zarif said Washington should wake up to the reality that "the United States cannot stay in this region with the people of the region not wanting it any more."

Asked if it was worth speaking to Trump, Zarif said: "It doesn't need speaking. He has to realize that he has been fed misinformation. And he needs to wake up, and apologize. He has to apologize, he has to change course." (Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Bernadette Baum)

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