Iran’s foreign minister on Friday refused to acknowledge that Israel was behind the recent attack on his country and described the weapons that were used as more like children’s toys.

“What happened last night was not a strike,” the foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, said in an interview with NBC News’ Tom Llamas. “They were more like toys that our children play with not drones.”

Amirabdollahian, who spoke to NBC News in New York where he was attending a U.N. Security Council session, said Iran was not planning to respond unless Israel launches a significant attack.

He said Israel had not taken responsibility for the strikes on Thursday and his country was still investigating what happened.

“The information that’s been mentioned in the media is not accurate,” Amirabdollahian said.

He warned that if Israel did attack Iran, the response would be swift and severe.

“If Israel takes a decisive action against my country and this is proven to us,” he said, “our response will be immediate and to the maximum and will cause them to regret it.”

For more on this story, tune in to NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt tonight at 6:30pm ET/5:30pm CT or check your local listings.

The recent cycle of violence between Israel and Iran began on April 1 when Israel bombed an Iranian consular building in the Syrian capital of Damascus, killing two generals and five officers in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iran responded 12 days later, launching an unprecedented, direct military attack on Israel involving more than 300 missiles and drones. The assault caused no significant damage, however. Nearly all of the missiles and drones were intercepted by Israeli, U.S. and other allied forces.

Although Israel has been locked in a shadow war with Israel for decades, with Iran arming and training proxy forces hostile to Israel in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, the Iranian aerial barrage marked the first time Tehran had staged an overt military attack on Israel.

In the following days, the Biden administration urged Israel to exercise restraint and not conduct a retaliatory attack that could trigger a full-blown war between the two adversaries.

Israel retaliated on Thursday night, striking a military airfield near the city of Isfahan in central Iran. Nuclear facilities in the area were not damaged, according to Iranian state media, and there were no reports of casualties. 

The attack was downplayed by Iranian state media and met with mostly silence from Israeli officials. The limited scope of the strike and the lack of public statements afterward appears to indicate that both sides are looking to ease tensions, experts said.

U.S. officials called for calm as well. “We do not want to see this conflict escalate,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday.

Amirabdollahian offered a similar sentiment but warned that Iran would respond with maximum force if Israel engages in what he described as more “adventurism.”


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