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Iran accuses US, allies of turning Persian Gulf into ‘tinderbox’

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (YouTube)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused the United States and its allies of turning the Persian Gulf into a “tinderbox ready to blow up” by “pouring weapons” into the region, Al Jazeera reported.

The Qatar-based television channel quoted Zarif as also saying in an interview on August 12 that the deployment of more warships in the Persian Gulf would only lead to more insecurity.

Zarif made the comments as relations between Iran and the United States continue to sour amid pressure against Tehran from Washington that includes the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and the reimposition of crippling sanctions.

Concerns about an escalation of tensions have been heightened by a recent series of naval confrontations and the seizure by Iranian forces of a U.K.-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz that connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea.

Earlier in August, Britain announced it was joining the United States in an “international maritime security mission” to help safeguard shipping and other interests in the Gulf.

“This is a tiny body of water and the more foreign naval vessels you have in this body of water the less secure it is for everybody,” Zarif told Al Jazeera.

Last week, Zarif said Iran “won’t hesitate to safeguard its security” in the Gulf, a strategic conduit for global oil and gas deliveries from the Middle East.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Muhammad al-Hakim tweeted on August 12 that Gulf states are able to secure navigation in the region and that “the presence of Western forces in the region will increase tension.”

John Bolton, the U.S. national-security adviser, is in London for a two-day visit during which he is expected to urge Britain to toughen its stance on Iran.