Rouhani calls Iran historical steward of maritime security
Japan says not mulling joining Western-proposed alliance
Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri said on Tuesday an international coalition to protect the Persian Gulf will bring insecurity.
“There is no need to form a coalition because these kinds of coalitions and the presence of foreigners in the region by themselves create insecurity,” Jahangiri said. “And other than increasing insecurity it will not achieve anything else.”
Britain called on Monday for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, days after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in what London described as an act of “state piracy” in the strategic waterway.
The UK has called the seizure of the Stena Impero on Friday by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps as a tit-for-tat move after British authorities detained a supertanker carrying Iranian oil on July 4 in the Mediterranean on suspicion it was shipping crude to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
But Iran has said it was not a retaliatory measure, stressing that the vessel had violated maritime laws and had collided with an Iranian fishing boat.
‘Guardian of security’
On Monday night, President Hassan Rouhani declared Iran the main "guardian of security" in the Persian Gulf.
"Throughout history, Iran has been and will be the main guardian of security and free navigation in the Persian Gulf,” Rouhani said in a meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.
"There is still no adequate and lasting stability and security in the region," he added, emphasizing that Iran was not seeking to stoke tensions.
The Islamic Republic, he added, would never act as the party to start any warfare or tension with other countries.
Japan also said Tuesday it is not weighing sending military forces for a US-proposed maritime coalition in a purported mission of protecting maritime shipping lanes in the Middle East.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday that there was no change in the country’s stance previously stated by Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya.
It was “as Minister Iwaya said,” noted the top Japanese government spokesman.
The Japanese defense minister said last week that he had “no plan” to send the Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East to join the military coalition envisioned by the US.
Sources said the United States was struggling to win its allies’ support for the initiative to heighten surveillance of the vital Middle East oil shipping lanes.
Because of fears of confrontation with Iran, any involvement by Washington’s allies is likely be limited to naval personnel and equipment already in place – near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and the Bab al-Mandeb strait in the Red Sea, two Persian Gulf sources and a British security source said.
Tensions began after several oil tankers, including one operated by a Japanese shipping firm, were suspiciously targeted near the Persian Gulf last month.
Washington and its staunch regional ally Saudi Arabia quickly blamed Iran for the suspicious attacks. However, Iran has denied all the charges, warning neighbors against false flags by “foreign players.”
The Japanese defense chief said last Tuesday that there have been no more similar attacks, and that threats against Japan in the area are deemed to be “in a temporary lull at present.”
He highlighted the importance of continuing diplomatic efforts to ease tensions in the Middle East, where US forces were on the verge of taking military action against Iran after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone flying over Iranian waters near the Strait of Hormuz in late June.
Japanese media have said Washington's proposal could be on the agenda during US national security advisor John Bolton’s ongoing visit to Tokyo.
Bolton on Monday met Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Iwaya and national security advisor Shotaro Yachi.
Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said on Monday that before making a decision on “what to do, Japan would like to make every effort to reduce tensions between Iran and the United States.”
The US that has been pursuing a campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran has urged its allies to follow suit.
Reuters, AFP and Press TV contributed to this story.