News ID: 252808
Published: 0216 GMT May 14, 2019

Iranian FM Zarif warns about ‘suspicious acts of sabotage’ in region

Iranian FM Zarif warns about ‘suspicious acts of sabotage’ in region

International Desk

Iran envoy: US putting out ‘fake intelligence’

Yemen’s Houthis attack Saudi oil infrastructure with drones

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned about “suspicious acts of sabotage” in the Middle East, following recent incidents involving oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Zarif made the remarks following a meeting with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in the capital, New Delhi, on Tuesday.

He 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.

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.”

The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, one of the world's largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz. It did not describe the nature of the attack or say who was behind it.

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two of its oil tankers were among those attacked off the coast of the Emirates and described the incidents as "acts of sabotage", a "criminal act" and an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE gave details on the nature of the attacks or accused anyone of responsibility.


Iran has described the incidents "worrisome and dreadful" and asked for a thorough investigation.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Monday "warned against plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security" and "called for the vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements".

Spokesman for the Iranian Parliament's Presiding Board Behrouz Nemati said on Tuesday that the tanker attacks were "Israeli mischief".

Asked whether Washington believed Tehran played a role, Brian Hook, the US special envoy for Iran, declined to comment, saying only US authorities would be assisting the investigation at the UAE's request.

A team of US military experts was sent to investigate the damages at the request of the UAE, but American officials have not provided any details about what exactly happened or any proof as yet about the possible Iranian involvement in the explosions.


Houthis drone attacks

Also on Tuesday, Saudi Araba said drones attacked one of its oil pipelines as other assaults targeted energy infrastructure elsewhere in the Arab kingdom

Yemen’s Houthi fighters, whom Saudi Arabia has been fighting against since March 2015, said they launched a series of coordinated drone attacks on the kingdom, across the border from Yemen.

“This is a message to Saudi Arabia, stop your aggression,” Mohammed Abdel-Salam, the spokesman of the Houthis, said.

 “Our goal is to respond to the crimes they are committing everyday against the Yemeni people,” he added.


‘Bad mistake’


Without accusing Tehran, US President Donald Trump warned that Iran would "suffer greatly" if it does "anything".

"I'm hearing little stories about Iran," Trump said at the White House. "If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake. If they do anything they will suffer greatly."

On May 5, the United States announced it was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in response to a "credible threat" from Iran, sparking fears of possible military clashes.

Britain warned of the danger of conflict erupting "by accident" in the Persian Gulf.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton has said Washington's military buildup was "a clear and unmistakable message” to Iran that “any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force".


US ‘fake’ intelligence’


Iran's ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi told CNN on Tuesday that President Trump's claim of intelligence suggesting Iran will attack US interests overseas is fake that is based on “narrow-minded agenda” pursued by hawks in Washington and the region. 

The New York Times reported Monday that US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan to the Trump administration last week that would send as many as 120,000 US troops to the Middle East in the event that Iran strikes American forces in the region or speeds up its development of nuclear program.

Takht Ravanchi rejected the report as “psychological warfare”, saying Iran is not in business of creating a conflict in the region. 

Spain’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday the country has recalled a frigate accompanying the US aircraft carrier to the Middle East because of rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.


"For the moment the frigate Mendez Nunez has left the combat group of the USS Abraham Lincoln," a ministry spokesman said.

"It's a temporary withdrawal, decided by Defense Minister Margarita Robles, as long as the American aircraft carrier is in this zone," the spokesman added.

He said the Spanish frigate had joined the aircraft carrier's strike group for a military exercise.

"No possible confrontation or warlike action is envisaged (by Spain) and it is for this reason that the participation is suspended for the moment," he added.

 Press TV, AP, AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.




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