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    Iranian FM Zarif Says 'Isolated' US Failed to Create Gulf Coalition as Allies 'Ashamed' to Join

    © REUTERS / Erin Piazza/U.S. Air Force/Handout
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    The United States has repeatedly called for the creation of a maritime coalition in the Gulf to maintain "freedom of navigation" after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a British tanker in the area last month.

    Speaking to reporters on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stated that the US had failed to create an allied naval coalition in the Persian Gulf.

    "Today, the United States is alone in the world and cannot create a coalition [in the Gulf]. Countries that are its friends are too ashamed of being in a coalition with them", he pointed out.

    Zarif said the US is accountable for Gulf tensions which caused "misery and stressed that Iran is responsible for the region's safety and security. He also blamed the UK for its involvement in US "economic terrorism" against Iran.

    Zarif reiterated that last month's seizure of an Iranian tanker by UK marines was an act of piracy and that the vessel was not en route to Syria.

    Regarding the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Zarif made it clear that Tehran would exit the agreement if necessary, and urged European signatories to the JCPOA to intensify efforts to save the deal.

    He went on to describe the US sanctions imposed on the top Iranian diplomat as a failure in diplomacy.

    The statement follows the US Department of Treasury's imposition of sanctions on Zarif, which Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi suggested was a reaction to US fear of the Iranian Foreign Minister's expertise in holding negotiations.

    "The peak of stupidity and inconsistency of America's leaders is at a point where they don't recognize Dr Zarif as being influential in Iran's policy, but with the ultimate ignorance, they sanction him! The Americans have a strong fear of the logic of Dr Zarif and his negotiating skills", Mousavi said.

    Last Month's Tankers' Seizures in the Gulf

    Zarif’s Monday remarks come after British Marines, and Gibraltar authorities seized the Iranian tanker Grace 1 on 4 July, claiming that the vessel was heading to Syria in violation of international sanctions imposed on Damascus.

    Iran condemned the move, calling it “pure piracy” which “sets a dangerous precedent”. Shortly after, Iran seized the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero, claiming that it was navigating without its recognition beacon, in violation of international maritime regulations.

     

     A picture shows supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on July 6, 2019
    © AFP 2019 / JORGE GUERRERO
    A picture shows supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on July 6, 2019

    Earlier, the US floated the idea of creating a maritime coalition to patrol the Strait of Hormuz, in a bid to “ensure the freedom of navigation” in the area. Washington invited several of its allies but received a mixed response. Japan denied that it would take part in the mission, while Berlin sent mixed signals. Belgium and Norway remain on the fence, while the UK said it intended to launch its own European protection coalition.

    All this comes amid ongoing tensions between Iran and the US which have been escalating since Washington unilaterally left the JCPOA on 8 May 2018, and reinstated harsh economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Exactly a year later, Iran announced that it would suspend some of its obligations under the JCPOA

    Related:

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    Pentagon Chief Claims Support for US-Led Anti-Iran Op in Gulf Growing Amid Mixed Signals From Allies
    US Extends Restrictions Related to Iran's Nuclear Programme, Pompeo Vows to Continue Pressure
    Tags:
    tankers, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), coalition, Javad Zarif, Iran, United States
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