Monday, October 14, 2019
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Russia Warns US Seems to Seek Pretext to Start Persian Gulf War

TEHRAN The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Moscow is concerned by the increasing conflict potential in the Persian Gulf as the US seems to be seeking a pretext to start a war, expressing concern at Washington's efforts to build up a coalition capable of deploying naval assets to the region.

"We have an impression that Washington is just seeking a pretext to both escalate tensions and pursue its aggressive rhetoric against Iran and proceed to a more active phase of the conflict", Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing in Moscow on Thursday.

According to the diplomat, events in the region are "really moving to a dangerous point and there are risks of a large-scale military clash".

The US is adding fuel to a smoldering conflict, and is now building up a naval coalition tasked with piling military pressure on Tehran.

"We are concerned over significantly increasing conflict potential in the Persian Gulf region. The situation seems to be moving closer to the red line", Zakharova noted.

"There is a feeling that Washington is looking for a pretext for war," the Russian foreign ministry announced.

The United States has officially requested Germany, France and the UK to join its military mission in the Persian Gulf to counter Iran as tensions mount between the United States and the Islamic Republic.

Washington previously indicated that an "international maritime security framework", known as "Operational Sentinel", was being set up, and aimed at "enhancing security" for commercial vessels operating in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Oman in the wake of recent attacks on oil tankers.

The US-led coalition idea comes in the wake of escalating military tensions in the region. In mid-May, several tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the UAE. Two more tankers carrying "Japan-related" cargo were struck off the Gulf of Oman in mid-June.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has, without providing any evidence, blamed Iran for recent mysterious attacks against oil tankers. Tehran has vehemently denied the accusation, warning regional countries about possible "false flags" by foreign players.

In early July, British marines and Gibraltar police seized an Iranian tanker off the Southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo claimed that the ship was transporting crude oil to Syria in violation of the EU sanctions placed on Damascus. Washington has applauded the move, hailing it as a sign that Europe is on board with the US' unilateral sanctions against Iran.

Iran condemned the illegal move of London and described it as tantamount to piracy. Tehran accused the UK of doing Washington's bidding and helping the US attempt to stifle the Islamic Republic's oil exports, rejecting London's claim that the supertanker was carrying crude for Syria.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei had slammed Britain's illegal seizure of the oil tanker, warning London of a pending response to the seizure of the supertanker that he referred to as a case of "piracy".

Then a week later in mid-July, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) impounded the British tanker ship, 'Stena Impero', as it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz en route to Saudi Arabia "for failing to respect international maritime rules.

The United Kingdom announced London's plans to "put together a European-led maritime protection mission", in response to the seizure of a UK-flagged tanker in the Persian Gulf.

The recent moves by foreign powers in the Middle East such as US sanctions on Tehran's oil, UK seizure of Iranian supertanker, as well as, "sabotage operations" on oil ships have intensified the turmoil in the region and the turmoil in the international energy market, affecting global crude prices in recent months.

Tensions mounted between Tehran and Washington last May, when Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and re-imposed harsh sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism. The American leader and his hawkish advisers National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have since been stepping up pressure against Iranians.

European nations have resisted joining Washington's campaign of "maximum pressure" against Iran as they remain committed to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which promised Iran sanctions relief in exchange for a commitment to halt its nuclear program.

The tensions saw a sharp rise on the first anniversary of Washington's exit from the deal as the US moved to ratchet up pressure on Iran by tightening its oil sanctions and sending military reinforcements, including an aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers, and a battery of Patriot missiles, to the Persian Gulf region. The Pentagon has also announced it was sending 1,000 additional US forces and more military resources to the Middle East.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran hit a new high in June after the US sent a number of military aircarft to the Iranian skies under a tense climate of escalating threats, forcing the IRGC Aerospace Force to shoot down one of the intruding American aircraft.

Iran has stressed that it will not be the initiator of any war, but reserves the right to self defense and will give a crushing response to any act of aggression by the United States.

Source: Fars News Agency