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Editorial: U.S., Iran should stop provoking each other

The confrontation between the U.S. and Iran is escalating and skirmishes that appear related to the escalation are taking place in various places in the Middle East.


Now the two countries have reached a flash point. An accidental clash could engulf the whole Middle East region. The U.S. and Iran should stop provoking each other and bring the situation under control.


The current situation began when the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and resumed imposing sanctions on the country. Iran countered by partially suspending the fulfillment of its obligation to restrict its nuclear development.


A Saudi Arabian tanker and oil pipeline were attacked. A rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. Some experts believe that a pro-Iranian group might have played a role in the series of attacks.


In response, the U.S. deployed a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and a bomber task force to waters near Iran. The media reported the U.S.  plans to deploy up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East.


The U.S. and Iran are lashing out at each other. If a hardline group that the Iranian government is unable to control resorts to a reckless means, an uncontrollable clash could spread to the entire Middle East region.


Chaos in the Middle East would impact the oil supply. After partially suspending the fulfillment of its obligations under the nuclear deal, Iran resumed increasing its supply of slightly enriched uranium. This  poses once again the risk of nuclear proliferation.


It is unclear what the U.S. is trying to achieve. U.S. President Donald Trump says the contents of the Iran nuclear deal are insufficient. If he is attempting to bring Iran to the renegotiating table through military pressure, it is counterproductive.


President Trump has placed priority on reducing the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East. Raising military tensions would run counter to this policy.


The international community needs to urge the U.S. and Iran to exercise restraint. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif visited Japan to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. President Trump will visit Japan on May 25.


Together with European countries, Japan calls for preserving the Iran nuclear deal. Tokyo historically maintains a good relationship with Tehran. Prime Minister Abe must urge President Trump to ease tensions in the Middle East.

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