Iran wants resolution, not escalation: UK’s Jeremy Hunt

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 Iran wants to resolve the ongoing crisis involving the UK seizure of an Iranian tanker and was "not seeking to escalate tensions," UK's Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday. (AFP)
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A picture shows supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on July 6, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 14 July 2019
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Iran wants resolution, not escalation: UK’s Jeremy Hunt

  • Jeremy Hunt:  Iran wants to resolve the ongoing crisis involving the UK seizure of an Iranian tanker
  • The UK's foreign minister said he told his Iranian counterpart that Britain would facilitate the release of the detained oil tanker if there were "guarantees" it would not go to Syria

LONDON: Iran wants to resolve the ongoing crisis involving the UK seizure of an Iranian tanker and was "not seeking to escalate tensions," UK's Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said after a conversation with his Iranian counterpart. 

Speaking on Saturday, Hunt said Mohammad Javad Zarif had told him during their telephone conversation that Iran was seeking a resolution to the issue involving detained tanker Grace 1.

The UK's foreign minister said he told Zarif that Britain would facilitate the release of the detained oil tanker if there were "guarantees" it would not go to Syria.

After what he called a "constructive call" with Zarif, Hunt tweeted that the UK would "facilitate release" if the British government received guarantees that the tanker would not dock in Syria, "following due process in Gibraltar courts."

US officials believed the tanker was destined for Syria to deliver oil, in violation of separate sets of EU and US sanctions.

Tehran had reacted angrily to the seizure, and Britain this week said Iranian military vessels had tried to "impede the passage" of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

Hunt said Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was doing an "excellent job co-ordinating issue and shares UK perspective on the way forward".

Hunt also said he raised with Zarif the imprisonment of British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and Zarif "said he would continue to seek to find a solution".


Iran’s top diplomat warns US is ‘playing with fire’

Updated 16 July 2019
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Iran’s top diplomat warns US is ‘playing with fire’

  • Iran announced last week that it had enriched uranium past the 3.67 percent limit set by the nuclear deal
  • The US quit an international deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program last year, hitting Tehran with crippling sanctions

UNITED NATIONS: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Monday that the United States is “playing with fire,” echoing remarks by President Donald Trump as the two sides are locked in a standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The United States quit an international deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program last year, hitting Tehran with crippling sanctions.
Tensions have since soared, with the US calling off air strikes against Iran at the last minute after Tehran downed an American drone, and Washington blaming the Islamic republic for a series of attacks on tanker ships.
“I think the United States is playing with fire,” Zarif told NBC News.
Iran announced last week that it had enriched uranium past the 3.67 percent limit set by the nuclear deal, and has also surpassed the 300-kilogram cap on enriched uranium reserves.
But “it can be reversed within hours,” Zarif told the channel, adding: “We are not about to develop nuclear weapons. Had we wanted to develop nuclear weapons, we would have been able to do it (a) long time ago.”
Zarif’s comments came as the United States imposed unusually harsh restrictions on his movements during a visit to the United Nations.
Weeks after the United States threatened sanctions against Zarif, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington issued him a visa but forbade him from moving beyond six blocks of Iran’s UN mission in Midtown Manhattan.
“US diplomats don’t roam around Tehran, so we don’t see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City, either,” Pompeo told The Washington Post.
No US diplomats are based in Iran as the two countries broke off relations in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the Western-backed shah.
“Foreign Minister Zarif, he uses the freedoms of the United States to come here and spread malign propaganda,” the top US diplomat said.
UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters that the UN Secretariat was in contact with the US and Iranian missions about Zarif’s travel restrictions and “has conveyed its concerns to the host country.”
The United States, as host of the United Nations, has an agreement to issue visas promptly to foreign diplomats on UN business and only rarely declines.
Washington generally bars diplomats of hostile nations from traveling outside a 40-kilometer (25-mile) radius of New York’s Columbus Circle.
Zarif is scheduled to speak Wednesday at the UN Economic and Social Council, which is holding a high-level meeting on sustainable development.
Despite the restrictions, the decision to admit Zarif is the latest sign that Trump’s administration appears to be retreating from its vow to place sanctions on him as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on June 24 that sanctions against Zarif would come later that week.
Critics questioned the legal rationale for targeting Zarif and noted that sanctions would all but end the possibility of dialogue — which Trump has said is his goal.
Zarif said in an interview with The New York Times he would not be affected by sanctions as he owns no assets outside of Iran.