Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Saturday dismissed the possibility of war erupting in the Middle East despite an escalating confrontation with the United States, as was reported by Reuters. “There will be no war because neither do we want a war, nor has anyone the idea or illusion it can confront Iran in the region,” Zarif said at the conclusion of a visit to Beijing.
Edited by: JV Staff
Tensions between the two countries has increased in recent days after the US military deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a move meant to counter “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.
Earlier this week the United States pulled some diplomatic staff from its embassy in neighboring Iraq following attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf.
The tensions began after President Trump pulled out of the 2015 deal last May later imposed two rounds of sanctions against Iran.
Earlier this month, Zarif announced that that Iran will reduce some “voluntary” commitments within its nuclear deal with world powers but will not withdraw from it.
Following Zarif’s announcement, the US imposed new sanctions on Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors.
“The fact is that Trump has officially said and reiterated again that he does not want a war, but people around him are pushing for war on the pretext that they want to make America stronger against Iran,” Zarif said on Saturday, according to Reuters.
On Tuesday, President Trump described as “fake news” a New York Times report saying acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan had presented his national security team with a plan that “envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons.”
The NYT reported that during a Wednesday morning meeting in the Situation Room, President Trump sent a message to his hawkish aides that he does not want the intensifying American pressure campaign against the Iranians to explode into open conflict.
For now, an administration that had appeared to be girding for conflict seems more determined to find a diplomatic off-ramp.
Asked on Thursday whether the United States was going to war with Iran, Trump replied, “I hope not.”
According to the NYT report, State Department officials, speaking to reporters, set a red line that they warned Iran would cross at its peril: It could not ramp up its nuclear fuel production to the point where it could produce a nuclear weapon in less than one year.
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