Russia: Washington’s pursuit of Iran will ignite Middle East

Zarif accuses US of ‘economic terrorism’

July 18, 2019 00:10
3 minute read.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 17, 2019. (photo credit: ANDREAS GEBERT/REUTERS)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that the US could ignite the Middle East with its dogged focus on Iran, and hinted that Israel is also responsible for regional unrest.

“The increased tensions in the region are a direct result of the anti-Iranian policy pursued by the US and some of its allies,” Lavrov said in an interview published Wednesday in the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper.

Some of the salient quotes were translated into English by the Russian Embassy in Israel.

“The US is flexing muscles, blames Iran for all sins,” Lavrov said. “This creates a dangerous situation. It can only take one match to light a fire.”

He spoke less than one month after Israel worked to create a united front against Iran in Syria, at a trilateral meeting in Jerusalem between Israel, Russia and the US.

“Relations with Iran, Israel, as well as other states of the Middle East are valuable to Russia,” Lavrov said. “Our foreign policy is multipronged, we don’t ‘ally’ against anybody. We guide our partners toward peaceful solutions to problems.”

Lavrov bashed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making a comparison between European appeasement of Nazi Germany prior to World War II and Europe’s actions with regard to Iran.

“It’s inappropriate to compare Europe in the 1930s with the modern regional reality,” Lavrov said. “[Neville] Chamberlain, [and Édouard] Daladier tried to ‘pacify’ Hitler, send its military machine to the USSR. Nothing like this is seen now. Iran regularly confirms its interest in regional stability.”

At the United Nations on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif continued to speak out against crippling US economic sanctions designed to force Tehran back to the bargaining table to renegotiate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the Trump administration exited last year. The other five world powers, including Great Britain, who are signatories to the deal have remained committed to the agreement.

“Our people are also subjected the most brutal form of economic terrorism, deliberately targeting innocent civilians to achieve illegitimate political objectives,” Zarif said as he addressed a high-level segment of the UN Economic and Social Council, speaking after Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

The US’s “unlawful extraterritorial sanctions are a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231,” and represent the great threat to the development goals of Tehran and its neighbors, Zarif said.

Just one day earlier, the US hinted that Iran might be willing to returning to the negotiating table, an idea Tehran immediately disavowed.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told KCMO Radio that Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had to decide whether the country would be the “largest state sponsor of terror,” or whether it would become a “normal country and rejoin the community of nations.”

The US is committed to sitting down with Iran without preconditions, he said. “If they do, everything will be great, and if not, we’ll head down a different path.”

Great Britain said it was sending the HMS Kent warship to the Gulf to protect its interests and ensure freedom of navigation, after tensions with Iran.

Iran has vowed to respond to what it calls Britain’s “piracy” over the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar.

“We remain focused on ensuring de-escalation in the region, and will act appropriately to protect UK interests and ensure freedom of navigation,” Great Britain’s Defense Ministry said.

With regard to the Strait of Hormuz, Pompeo said on The Hugh Hewitt Show that US President Donald Trump “made pretty clear that this is an international obligation to keep these waterways open.... The Iranians’ effort to deny transit for commercial vessels, crude oil vessels and other vessels is something that – frankly, it’s consistent with 40 years of their history....”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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