Zarif says his country “doesn’t want” to close the Strait of Hormuz but could do it.
By World Israel News Staff
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says his country “doesn’t want” to close the Strait of Hormuz, though “we certainly have the ability to do it.”
Zarif made the comment to the Bloomberg news outlet, in one of a string of interviews he granted Western media during a stay in New York City while involved in talks at the United Nations.
“About one-third of the world’s seaborne crude and fuels passed through the Strait of Hormuz last year, highlighting its key role in global oil markets,” noted the business news service.
During May and June, six tankers were attacked in the area. Iran has denied responsibility.
Iran did acknowledge shooting down a U.S. military drone in June, saying that it had entered Iranian airspace. The U.S. countered that the drone was over international waters.
“We defend our territory,” Zarif told CNN, in one of his other interviews while in New York, adding that “the United States drone… was shot down, because even without entering Iranian airspace, it could spy over our entire territory.”
The foreign minister argued that the drone “not only threatened our territorial integrity, but it was threatening our national security.” Zarif said Tehran “will not tolerate foreigners coming to the region [to] threaten our national sovereignty,” he said.
On the nuclear issue, Zarif told the BBC that “if Iran wanted to build a bomb,” it could have done it a “long time ago.”
Speaking to the British public broadcaster, the chief Iranian diplomat argued that “if the Europeans are serious about a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East, there is somewhere else [where] they need to be looking and that’s Israel.”
Iran has been seeking European help in salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal it reached with Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany, and the U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in May 2018.
The U.S. “shot itself in the foot” by pulling out of the nuclear accord, Zarif told Bloomberg.
The Trump administration has threatened to sanction Zarif and even limited his movement in New York City during the visit.
“Zarif comes around and talks about how he’s the good guy,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Hugh Hewitt Show. “He has been the foreign minister while the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken every action we’ve seen and he is equally responsible for those activities.”