Tensions between the United States and Iran have soared in recent weeks with Washington dispatching warships and bombers and Tehran threatening to resume higher uranium enrichment. Since the US pulled out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers last year and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, tensions between the two nations have been on the rise.
Here are some of the latest developments:
US claims threat from Iran
In the past few weeks, the Trump administration has repeatedly claimed that Iran and militias aligned with it are planning to strike US troops deployed in the region and that the threat has increased. The US deployed its warships and bombers to the region to counter the alleged threat from Iran and issued orders on Wednesday asking its nonessential government staff to leave Iraq immediately.
Trump warned that if Tehran does “anything” in the form of an attack “they will suffer greatly”, while Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says “no one is seeking war,” but that it wouldn’t be difficult for Iran to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels, as per a report by The Associated Press.
Drone attack on oil pipeline in Saudi
Further escalating the matter, was the drone attack by Tehran-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen at a key oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia resulting in its shutdown. The kingdom called on Washington to launch ‘surgical’ strikes on Iran even as the US continued to boost its military presence in the region.
In response, the Saudi-led military coalition carried out several air strikes in Yemen’s capital Sanaa targetting nine military sites in and around the city. Reuters ran a Houthi-run Masirah television report that six civilians, including four children, had been killed and 60 wounded, including two Russian women working in the health sector quoting the Houthi health ministry.
European leaders urge peace
Amidst all this, European foreign ministers have urged Iran to respect the nuclear deal and say that they plan to continue trade with the country despite the imposition of US sanctions. While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs his counterparts on the alleged threats from Iran European ministers urge Donald Trump-led administration in the US to show restraint.
China, Iran meet
While Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met its Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Friday in an effort to keep its world markets open following the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
Iran wishes to cooperate with China “bilaterally and multilaterally, in order to preserve the interests of our two peoples … for peace and security,” Zarif was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. He added, “We consider (China) one of our closest partners in the world.”
China’s Xinhua state news agency quoted Wang as saying, “China firmly opposes unilateral sanctions and the so-called `long-arm’ jurisdiction imposed by the United States on Iran.”
US Congress warns Trump
The US Congress has warned Trump for the dangerous escalation with Iran with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Trump has “no business” moving toward a Middle East confrontation without approval from Congress.
Taking a softer stance on the matter, President Donald Trump Friday replied to a question about going to war with Iran saying with ‘I hope not’.