LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Getty President Jim Cuno called for the protection of cultural sites in Iran, in response to threatening tweets from President Donald Trump.
“It is tragic that today there would be any contemplation or rhetorical threat of further destruction of cultural heritage, particularly when what precious little remains in the world is already suffering from wanton destruction, looting, neglect, reckless overdevelopment, and climate change,” Cuno said in a statement issued Monday. “Instead, we should be celebrating its existence, working to enhance protections and strengthen our international laws, and moving toward a more textured understanding of the world’s ancient cultures and their contributions to our shared experience.”
The J. Paul Getty Trust operates the Getty Villa and the Getty Center.
The president threatened to strike Iran’s cultural sites if the country retaliates for the United States’ assassination of its top military general, Qassem Soleimani.
….targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
But Trump Administration officials have walked back this threat. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC’s “This Week”, “We’ll be have lawfully. We’ll be have inside the system. We always have, and we always will.” Defense Secretary Mark Esper also reiterated the sentiment Monday, saying “We will follow the laws of armed conflict.”
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted in response to the president’s threats that targeting a country’s cultural sites is 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;
-Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME;
-Whether kicking or screaming, end of US malign presence in West Asia has begun.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 5, 2020
Iran, the second largest country in the Middle East, is one of the world’s oldest civilizations and is home to two dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites.