♦ CIA’s spy network dismantled: Iran
♦ Saudi defence forces intercept two more Yemeni rebel drones
President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday Iran would not wage war against any nation, while Russia, China told the United States it should drop what it called provocative plans to deploy more troops to the Middle East.
Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since Washington blamed its long-time foe for Thursday’s attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane.
Relations had already deteriorated following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from an international pact under which Iran agreed curbs on its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
Since exiting that accord in May last year Trump has restored and extended US sanctions, forcing countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
Tehran, which has denied involvement the tanker attacks last week and in May, has urged other signatories to take action to save the nuclear pact or see Iran turn its back on the deal.
On Monday Iran warned it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under a 2015 nuclear deal, which had sought to limit its nuclear capabilities.
The growing standoff drew calls for restraint from Russia and China.
China’s top diplomat warned that the world should not open a “Pandora’s Box” in the Middle East, as he denounced US pressure on Iran and called on it not to drop out of the landmark nuclear deal.
Russia told the US to cease actions that looked like a conscious attempt to provoke war with Iran, and urged restraint on all sides, reported Reuters.
Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday announced the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were defensive purposes, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.
Rouhani said Iran did not seek conflict and dismissed US efforts to isolate Iran and suggested the Trump administration was inexperienced in international affairs.
Iran said yesterday it has dismantled a new espionage network linked to the US Central Intelligence Agency and arrested a number of spies, reported AFP.
Meanwhile, Saudi air defences intercepted two drones fired by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, one of them targeting a residential area in the southern Saudi city of Abha, Saudi media said yesterday.