Iran slams U.S. sanctions as crisis mounts

Middle East tensions take an ominous turn

President Trump and Swiss President Ueli Maurer are meeting at the White House on Thursday, as tensions with Iran mount. A series of attacks Sunday on four commercial oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, less than 100 miles away from the Strait of Hormuz, has gone unclaimed, though US officials reportedly suspected Iran.

"America can not afford the costs of a new war, and the country is in a bad situation in terms of manpower and social conditions", he added. American intelligence has indicated that Iran has placed missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf, prompting fears that Tehran may strike at United States troops and assets or those of its allies. Tehran has described those steps as "psychological warfare" and a "political game".

After two weeks of mixed signals on Iran, from high-profile U.S. military moves to administration assertions that it's not angling for war, President Donald Trump said Friday that even the Iranians may be confused about what comes next.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed U.S. officials, reported that Mr Trump preferred a diplomatic route with Iran and direct talks with its leaders, but anxious that some of his advisers were pushing war.

Trump has urged Iran's leadership to hold talks over its nuclear program and regional influence amid rising tensions between the two countries that has fanned fears of armed conflict after the United States deployed an aircraft carrier group to the region.

Meanwhile, BBC Arabic reported this week that during his trip to Baghdad, Mr Pompeo passed a message to Iran via Iraqi officials "to come to the table", an Iraqi official told the station.

But he has also made clear that he will protect US interests in the region, one official said. "They understand that the American people would not support a preemptive, considered attack on Iran".

"If a war happens, the world will suffer from problem in energy supply", Gen. Saleh Jokar said, according to a report Friday by the semi-official Fars news agency.

In May 2018, he pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with six world powers.

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The comments added to days of sabre-rattling between Tehran and Washington, which has tightened sanctions and built up its military presence in the region alleging threats from Iran to its troops and interests.

The President has indicated recently he is intent on speaking with the Iranians, and the source said this meeting with the Swiss is meant to try and move that along.

Last week, Iran notified the five remaining signatories that it would reduce some commitments under the accord.

One is the demonization of Iran rooted in the genuinely nefarious things the Iranian regime did in the past and dates back to when Ted Koppel was talking to Americans every weeknight about USA diplomats held hostage in Tehran.

The Mehr news agency quoted Iranian army chief warning the U.S. against miscalculations.

"Consequently, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia condemns in the strongest terms these terrorist attacks and calls upon the global community to take a firm stand towards those responsible for such provocative and subversive operations".

The Trump administration pulled America out of the 2015 deal a year ago and imposed escalating sanctions ─ the latest levied as recently as last week ─ that have crippled Iran's economy.

"What if this is exactly where the Iran hawks in the administration and throughout Washington want us to be?"

Iran has been accused by the U.S. and the United Nations of supplying ballistic missile technology and arms to the Houthi rebels, which Tehran denies. Tehran denies ever having had one.

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