News ID: 252480
Published: 0847 GMT May 07, 2019

Zarif: Regional ‘unpopularity’ cause of US safety concerns, not Iran

Zarif: Regional ‘unpopularity’ cause of US safety concerns, not Iran

Political Desk

SNSC: US dispatch of strike group ‘psychological warfare’

Unpopularity in the Middle East is the cause of the US safety concerns, not Iran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday, after Washington said it was sending a carrier strike group and bombers to the region.

“If US and clients don’t feel safe, it’s because they’re despised by the people of the region — blaming Iran won’t reverse that,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Sunday the United States was deploying the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East to send a message to Iran.

Iran’s top security body on Tuesday dismissed as “psychological warfare” the US announcement.

“Bolton’s statement is a clumsy use of a burnt-out happening for psychological warfare,” Keivan Khosravi, the spokesman for the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said.

Citing surveillance information relayed by Iranian Armed Forces, Khosravi said the US carrier had already entered the Mediterranean 21 days ago.

“Bolton lacks understanding of military and security issues. His remarks are more intended to serve as braggadocio,” Khosravi added.

He cited the precedent of the US military’s sustained defeats in the face of regional crises, saying, “It is unlikely that the US military’s commanders and main components would be inclined towards testing the Iranian Armed Forces’ proven capabilities.”

Bolton had said that the deployment was an alleged response "to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings."

US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Monday he had approved dispatching the carrier strike group and bombers due to indications of a “credible threat” by Iranian forces. He provided no details of the underlying intelligence.

Separately, a military adviser to Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the United States was “neither willing nor capable” with respect to an attack on Iran.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said Washington would have a hard time convincing world opinion and regional countries to accept an all-out war against Iran, and to mobilize resources for such a conflict.

Iranian newspapers and commentators have widely dismissed Washington’s announcement as a “bluff” and “empty rhetoric.”

Iran said last month it was prepared for a US decision to end waivers granted to buyers of Iranian oil and warned that it could close the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf if Tehran was barred from using it. Around 30 percent of the world’s seaborne oil exports get shipped through the strait.

Last month, US President Donald Trump’s administration said it would end waivers for countries buying Iranian oil as of May in an attempt to reduce Iran’s crude exports to zero following Washington’s withdrawal from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. The administration also blacklisted Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

US-Iranian tensions escalated further after Washington acted on Friday to force Tehran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and expanding its only nuclear power plant. Washington’s step intensified a campaign aimed at halting Tehran’s ballistic missile program and curbing its regional power.

Iran’s media reported on Monday that the country will revive part of its halted nuclear program in response to the US withdrawal from the nuclear accord but does not plan to pull out of the agreement itself.

Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.



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