Iran Accuses U.S. of Framing it for Tanker Sabotage to Provoke Conflict

Iran accused officials in the Trump administration and its Middle East allies of attempting to frame it for an attack on oil tankers near a strategic Persian Gulf waterway.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Tuesday said “some radical individuals inside the U.S. administration and the region” were pursuing “dangerous policies” in an attempt to pull the Americans into a military conflict with Iran.

“We had predicted that some would want to escalate tension in the region by some actions,” Mr. Zarif said in New Delhi after a meeting with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.

.. “Spreading “fake intelligence” should alert everybody to what we call the B-team’s mal-intentions toward the region and the stability of the Persian Gulf,” Mr. Miryousefi said.

Iranian officials often use the term “B-team” for a quartet of people they say are trying to stoke conflict with Iran: White House Security Adviser

  • John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister
  • Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince
  • Mohammed bin Salman and Emirati Crown Prince
  • Mohammed bin Zayed.

The White House has yet to directly blame Iran for the attack, but President Trump said Monday that, “If [the Iranians] do anything, they will suffer greatly.”

.. While Tehran has lashed out against the Trump administration for ditching the accord, it also spent weeks trying to de-escalate tensions by staying in the deal along with the other parties.

Even some U.S. officials acknowledge a reluctance from Iran to ratchet up tensions. In late April, one week after Washington said it would not renew waivers to Iran’s oil customers. A U.S. official said its military intelligence showed that the Iranian Navy had not changed its behavior in the Persian Gulf despite threats to close down the strait if Tehran itself was unable to use it.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials such as Mr. Zarif have warned that some officials in the U.S., alongside Saudi Arabia and Israel, might try to lure Iran into a military confrontation.

“There are worries about suspicious actions and sabotages in the region, and we have predicted them before,” Mr. Zarif said. He has previously said he doesn’t believe President Trump wants a war with Iran.

.. Saudi Arabia halted pumping on a major oil pipeline after two pipeline boosters were attacked by drones, the kingdom’s energy minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement.

.. Saudi and U.S. officials accuse Iran of providing the Houthis with training and designs to build their drones. Tehran denies the charges.

.. The U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, appeared to temper tensions after the attacks on the tankers.

“We need to do a thorough investigation to understand what happened, why it happened, and then come up with reasonable responses short of war,” Ambassador John Abizaid told reporters in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Monday.

“It’s not in (Iran’s) interest, it’s not in our interest, it’s not in Saudi Arabia’s interest to have a conflict,” he said.

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