Iran: US has turned the Gulf region into a “flammable sulfur can”

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the United States on Monday of turning the Gulf region into a “flammable sulfur can,” Al Jazeera television reported.

Gulf oil tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz has become the focus of a confrontation between the United States and Iran since Washington pulled out of the nuclear deal with Tehran and reimposed sanctions to strangle its oil exports.

After explosions damaged six tankers in May and June and Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in July, the United States launched a naval security mission in the Gulf to which Britain joined to protect merchant ships.

“The Gulf is narrow and the more foreign ships there are, the less secure it is,” Zarif was quoted as saying in an interview.

“The region was flooded with weapons by America and its allies, turning it into a flammable sulfur can.”

Zarif, who arrived in Doha on Sunday, met on Monday with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, to convey the message, state media reported.

Qatar, which hosts one of the largest US military bases in the Middle East, is trying not to slip into the escalating conflict between Washington and Tehran.

Iraq, which has good relations with both Iran and the United States, has warned that the deployment of Western forces in the Gulf is raising tension in the region.

“The Gulf states combined are able to secure the passage of ships,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim said on Twitter on Monday.

“Iraq seeks to reduce tension in our region through calm negotiations and the presence of Western forces in the region will increase tension.”

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

The tanker row has dragged Britain into a diplomatic row between major EU states that want to maintain the Iranian nuclear deal and the United States, which is pushing for a firmer policy toward Iran.

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