RNA - “To my knowledge and certainly while I was national security adviser, the Obama administration was not presented with an opportunity by our intelligence community or by the US military to strike Qassem Soleimani. Had we been presented with such an opportunity, what we would have done is weighed very carefully and very deliberately the risks versus the potential rewards,” Rice said in an interview with MSNBC on Saturday.
“We would have assessed all of the ways in which this could enhance our security and degrade our security and I think judging from what I know and from what we are likely to see, I think that there is real reason to believe that in all likelihood the benefits will be outweighed by the risks,” she added.
The former US official further said that it was reasonable to assume that the risks of Soleimani’s assassination could exceed the benefits as Iran has the capacity to retaliate in very significant ways.
“Frankly the fact we have taken Soleimani off the field doesn’t mean that the Iranians have lost their capacity to attack us. In fact we can be certain they are motivated now to retaliate in far greater scale,” she said.
Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were targeted in US airstrikes in the Iraqi capital Baghdad early on Friday. The US strike which took place at the Baghdad International Airport killed eight other people.
The Pentagon said President Donald Trump had ordered Soleimani's assassination.
Following the incident, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said those who assassinated the commander must await a harsh revenge.
Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) also said in a statement that a harsh vengeance "in due time and right place" awaited criminals behind the assassination.
General Soleimani cooperated side by side with the PMU in the face of the most deadly terrorist outfits to ever afflict the region, including the Daesh Takfiri group.
His assassination has drawn a wave of condemnation from officials and movements across the world, and triggered furious public protests in denunciation of the heinous act.