News ID: 256068
Published: 0207 GMT July 20, 2019

Iranian FM says military conflict with US not ‘inevitable’

Iranian FM says military conflict with US not ‘inevitable’

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a military conflict between Iran and the United States is not inevitable amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Zarif made the remarks in an interview with PBS NewsHour on Friday.

Asked about the potential for a military conflict between the US and Iran, he said “nothing is inevitable.”

In order to avoid a war with Iran, the US “should not undermine our sovereignty, our territorial integrity or our security,” Zarif said.

However, the Iranian foreign minister said he recently met with the members of the US Congress to discuss ways to end the stalemate.

In the latest in a series of confrontations over the last few months, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) seized a British oil tanker on Friday after Gibraltar seized a tanker that was carrying Iran’s oil. Last month, Iranian forces shot down an American drone that it was flying over its territorial waters. It happened after explosions hit several oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Iran denied its involvement in the attacks.

The tensions in the region increased after the US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

A recent US military buildup in the Persian Gulf has also worsened the ongoing tensions between the two countries.

Regarding the Iran nuclear deal, Zarif told the PBS NewsHour that if the US and Europe do not fulfill their obligations under the deal, then Iran does has a right to continue uranium enrichment, citing a provision in the agreement which says “if one side does not fulfill its obligation, the other side may…reduce its commitments.”

He added that “one side” cannot benefit from the “positive outcomes” of the deal without doing “their part of the bargain.”

In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, the Iranian foreign minister said that the US “shot itself in the foot” by pulling out of the nuclear accord with Iran.

Zarif also accused European countries that are part of the agreement of failing to carry out their own commitments under the deal and after the US withdrawal. He said promises to allow Iran to sell oil and repatriate money have failed to materialize.

Addressing US allegations that Iran has never given up its goal of building nuclear weapons, Zarif said Iran has the technical ability to pursue them “very rapidly” but “we’re not going to” because Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei made a “religious decree” that they are forbidden.

“If we wanted to build nuclear weapons, we could have built it a long time ago,” said Zarif, who was in New York to address a United Nations meeting.

Addressing US accusations that Tehran fuels instability across the Mideast, Zarif said the primary culprits for regional turmoil are the US allies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who buy billions of dollars in weapons from the US.  Dismissing an issue US officials have cited in recent days, Zarif said that under no circumstances could Iran give up its missiles given the arms buildup by its enemies in the region.

Pressed on whether there’s a diplomatic solution to US-Iran tensions, Zarif suggested that President Hassan Rouhani’s government is drawing lessons from Trump’s threats against Mexico over trade and immigration, and that it was clear to Tehran that Washington would keep asking for more even if the two parties were to eventually strike a new deal.

 

 

   
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