Iran’s military chief says if the Islamic Republic decided to stop oil flow from the Persian Gulf, it will do it publicly and there will be nothing covert about it.
Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri made the remarks during a military ceremony in Tehran on Monday, in reaction to charges leveled against Iran by the United States and some of its allies accusing Tehran of being behind recent attacks on two tanker ships in the Sea of Oman and a previous attack on several commercial vessels off the coast of the Emirati port city of Fujairah.
The Iranian military chief noted that “the US and its stooges” are using recent maritime incidents as grounds to incriminate Iran, saying, “They must be aware of the reality that if the Islamic Republic of Iran were determined to prevent export of oil from the Persian Gulf, that determination would be realized in full and announced in public, in view of the power of the country and its Armed Forces.”
Major General Baqeri added, “Iran will not take any covert or deceptive steps like the deceitful and terrorist US, which has made the world insecure, along with its regional and international stooges.”
One Japanese-owned and one Norwegian-owned tanker were struck by explosions near the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Thursday morning. Tokyo said both vessels were carrying “Japanese-related” cargo.
Shortly after the incidents, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran, without offering any evidence.
“It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” Pompeo told reporters in a brief appearance at the State Department in Washington, D.C.
Britain has also followed the US rhetoric over the attack and blamed Iran, warning Tehran that these actions were “deeply unwise.”
“This is deeply worrying and comes at a time of already huge tension. I have been in contact with Pompeo and, while we will be making our own assessment soberly and carefully, our starting point is obviously to believe our US allies,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement on Thursday.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Moussavi on Friday said the US needed to stop playing a blame game through “suspicious” attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East, describing the American behavior as “worrying.”
“It seems that for Mr. Pompeo and other American statesmen, accusing Iran in the suspicious and unfortunate incident for tankers is the most convenient and simplistic job,” Moussavi said.
Tokyo has dismissed the US claim that Iran attacked the two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman, according to Japanese officials.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency cited informed state officials as saying Tokyo had demanded that Washington examine the case further, and that grainy video footage released by the US as supposed evidence was unclear and could not be used to prove anything.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Baqeri emphasized that the Islamic Republic is currently facing dishonest enemies that renege on their commitments, including the United States, and who mount pressure on the country on the one hand and speak about negotiations on the other hand.
The enemies exert pressure on Iran with the purpose of forcing the country into choosing from the two options of war or negotiations, Baqeri said, adding that the Islamic Republic has selected the path of resistance and defense and would firmly press ahead with it.