Iranian FM Zarif warns about ‘suspicious acts of sabotage’ in region
On a visit to India, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned about “suspicious acts of sabotage” in the region, following recent incidents involving oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
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Zarif made the remarks following a meeting with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in the capital, New Delhi, on Tuesday.
The top Iranian diplomat said that during the meeting the pair discussed “regional issues, dangers posed by the policies pursued by hardliners inside the US administration and the region and the concerns about the suspicious acts of sabotage that are taking place in our region” with the aim of fueling tensions.
Zarif was apparently referring to the incident on Sunday, when explosions reportedly hit several oil tankers near the Emirati port of al-Fujairah.
After initial denial, Abu Dhabi later confirmed that a number of commercial ships had been the target of “sabotage operations” near its territorial waters, without elaborating on the nature of the incidents.
Iran has described the incident as “lamentable” and “worrying” and called for thorough investigations.
Later in the day, Zarif said in a tweet that he had already warned of such “accidents” because of Washington’s renewed warmongering policies.
In interviews in April, I predicted “accidents”—not because I'm a genius— but because #B_Team is so brazenly following @AmbJohnBolton's script (https://t.co/beCZByEaCT).
After all, half of B-Team were co-conspirators in disastrous Iraq war.
Stark reminder https://t.co/ksCi9ntp85pic.twitter.com/hpkGaap8aC
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 14, 2019
Elsewhere, Zarif said that during his talks with Swaraj, the Indian foreign minister underlined the importance of implementing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the need for Tehran to reap the economic benefits of the accord.
Zarif said he had told his Indian counterpart that Iran’s recent move to reduce its commitments under the multinational agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was within the framework of the nuclear accord.
On May 8, Iran announced that it would stop exporting excess uranium and heavy water, setting a 60-day deadline for the five remaining parties to the deal to take practical measures toward ensuring Iran’s interests in the face of US sanctions.
Employing the policy of “maximum pressure” against Tehran, the US left a multi-lateral nuclear deal with Iran, which has the UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany as cosignatories, last year.
It then reinstated the sanctions that had been lifted under the accord in spite of the fact that the deal had been ratified in the form of a United Nations Security Council resolution.
Washington has also been trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber squad, an amphibious assault ship, and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to try to stack up pressure on Tehran.
Ahead of the talks with his Indian counterpart on Monday, Zarif expressed regret that “the United States has been escalating the situation unnecessarily. We do not seek escalation but we have always defended ourselves.”
He described India as “one of our most important economic, political and regional partners,” saying, “We have regular consultations with India on various issues and I’m here to have consultations with my counterpart on most recent developments in the region as well as our bilateral relations.”
During the Tuesday meeting, the two ministers also discussed energy issues and Iran’s strategic southeast port of Chabahar.
Last year, Iran signed an agreement to lease the operational control of phase one of Chabahar port to India for 18 months.
The port provides the easiest access to the high seas to landlocked Central Asian countries of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.