UN council urges 'maximum restraint' in Gulf
Washington, Jun 25 (AP) The UN Security Council is condemning the latest attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and urging all parties "to exercise maximum restraint and take measures and actions to reduce escalation and tension."
The council says the tanker attacks represent "a serious threat to maritime navigation and energy supply."
The statement was read Monday after closed consultations and a briefing on the attacks by U.N. peacekeeping chief Rosemary DiCarlo.
The UN's most powerful body says the attacks also violate international rules on freedom of navigation and maritime transport and threaten international peace and security.
The United States has blamed Iran for the latest attacks. Tehran has denied any involvement.
Council members are urging "that differences must be addressed peacefully and through dialogue."
Iran's U.N. ambassador is calling the current situation "very dangerous" and says the United States should de-escalate tensions by stopping "its military adventurism" in the region, withdrawing its "naval armada" and moving away from "economic warfare against the Iranian people."
Majid Takht Ravanchi says the Trump administration's decision to impose new sanctions Monday on the Islamic Republic is another indication of U.S. hostility against the Iranian people and its leaders.
He spoke with reporters while the U.N. Security Council held closed consultations on the rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Ravanchi says U.S.-Iran talks are impossible under current conditions, adding that "you cannot start a dialogue with someone who is threatening, who is intimidating you."
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order targeting Iran's supreme leader and his associates with financial sanctions.
Trump says the supreme leader is responsible for Iran's hostile conduct.
He says the United States does not seek conflict with Iran but will continue to increase pressure on its Middle East adversary to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons and supporting militant groups.
The United States pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal that world powers signed with Iran and has already applied crushing sanctions on the country's economy.
The president says Monday's action follows a series of aggressions by Iran, including the shooting down of a $100 million U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran's ambassador to Japan is seeking international support to ease Mideast tensions and demands Washington stop hostilities toward Tehran Morteza Rahmani Movahed said on Monday in Tokyo that Iran faces alleged U.S. "economic terrorism" and suspected sabotage attempts in the Persian Gulf.
He urged the international community to help ease the tensions in the region by forming a consensus to stop the alleged U.S. hostility.
President Donald Trump last year withdrew from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and has imposed sanctions. Iran has threatened to break from the deal unless Europe mitigates what Tehran calls Trump's "economic warfare."
Iran accuses the US of aiming to cripple Iran's economy and forcing policy changes. Tensions spiked last week after Iran downed an unmanned US military aircraft.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Saudi Arabia, where he is to meet Saudi Crown Mohammed bin Salman amid heightened tensions with the kingdom's rival, Iran.
Before departing to Saudi Arabia, Pompeo said he would be talking to officials in the Persian Gulf as well as Asia and Europe as he sets out to build an international coalition against Iran.
Pompeo said the U.S. is prepared to negotiate with Iran, but also that new U.S. sanctions against Tehran will be announced Monday.
Pompeo was greeted upon his arrival on Monday in the Red Sea city of Jiddah by new U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid and Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf.
From the kingdom, Pompeo will travel next to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, a close U.S. ally.
Iran's naval chief is threatening the United States, saying Tehran is capable of shooting down other American spy drones such as the one downed last week by Revolutionary Guard forces.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency carried Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi's warning on Monday, made during a meeting with a group of defense officials.
Khanzadi says Iran can always deliver another "crushing response ... and the enemy knows it." President Donald Trump last week called off military strikes against Iran after the Iranians shot down U.S. surveillance drone, valued at over $100 million, on Thursday.
Iran alleges that the drone violated its airspace, which the U.S. denies.
Trump, however, has also said that he appreciated Iran's decision to not shoot down a manned U.S. spy plane carrying 30 people in the same area as the drone.
Saudi Arabia has raised the number of people wounded in a Yemeni rebel attack on an airport in the kingdom to 21. It had previously said a Syrian resident was also killed in the attack.
The airport in the southwestern town of Abha was struck shortly after 9 p.m. local time on Sunday.
Saudi Col. Turki al-Maliki did not say what type of weapon was used in the attack. The spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition waging war against Yemen's Iranian-allied rebel Houthis noted that the rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they used bomb-laden Qasef-2K drones.
The wounded include 13 Saudis, four Indians, two Egyptians and two Bangladeshis. Al-Maliki was quoted Monday on Saudi state TV saying 18 were hospitalized, two with serious burns.