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June 18, 2019
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Iran FM warns US against playing ‘dangerous game’ in Gulf

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has warned the United States against ‘playing a dangerous game‘ in the Gulf.

Zarif said that the US was ‘playing a dangerous game’ by boosting its military might in the Gulf, criticizing the US move to deploy an aircraft carrier strike group and bomber task force earlier this month in response to an unspecified threat.

The Iranian top diplomat cautioned that having such military assets in a small area was in itself prone to accidents.

In an interview with CNN, Zarif said that extreme prudence was required but the United States was playing a very, very dangerous game.

Friction between Tehran and Washington has steadily ratcheted up this month, a year after US President Donald Trump pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear accord brokered between the Islamic Republic and several other world powers. Under the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

On Tuesday, Zarif said Tehran had “acted in good faith” over the JCPOA and accused the US of waging “economic warfare” on Iran by reimposing sanctions and moving to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero.

“Iran never negotiates with coercion. You cannot threaten any Iranian and expect them to engage. The way to do it is through respect, not through threats,” Zarif said, adding there would be “painful consequences” if current tensions escalate further.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Tuesday that whenever the US administration threatens Iran, international and domestic pressure means “they regret it in less than two hours”.