Iran says US is 'flooding' Gulf with weapons
MİDDLE EAST

Iran says US is 'flooding' Gulf with weapons

News Service Reuters, Yeni Şafak

Iran on Monday blamed the U.S. and its allies of stoking tensions in the Gulf by amassing weapons in the region.

The Gulf region became a tinderbox because the U.S. and its allies are flooding it with weapons, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told Al Jazeera TV.

Oil tanker traffic passing through the Gulf via the Strait of Hormuz has become the focus of a U.S.-Iranian standoff since Washington pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions to strangle Tehran's oil exports.

After explosions that damaged six tankers in May and June and Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker in July, the United States launched a maritime security mission in the Gulf, joined by Britain, to protect merchant vessels.

Zarif, in interview remarks cited by Qatar-based Al Jazeera, said the Strait "is narrow, it will become less safe as foreign (navy) vessels increase their presence in it".

Zarif, who arrived on Sunday in Doha, met on Monday with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani for talks to convey that message, Iranian state-run media reported.

Qatar, which hosts one of the biggest U.S. military bases in the Middle East, is trying not to be drawn into the escalating conflict between Washington and Tehran.

Iraq, which maintains good relations with both Washington and Tehran, cautioned on Monday that the deployment of Western forces was fueling regional tension.

"The states of the Gulf can together secure the transit of ships," Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim said on Twitter. "Iraq is seeking to reduce tension in our region through calm negotiations...The presence of Western forces in the region will increase tension," he said.

Last month, Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized the British tanker, Stena Impero near the Strait for alleged marine violations, two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of violating sanctions on Syria.

The tanker dispute has tangled Britain in the diplomatic dispute between the EU's big powers - which want to preserve the Iran nuclear deal - and the United States which has pushed for a tougher policy on Iran.

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