TOKYO — Iran’s ambassador to Japan on Monday accused the United States of being behind the attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz earlier this month, in an effort to paint his country as a villain.
“We strongly condemn the attacks,” Morteza Rahmani Movahed told a press conference in Tokyo. “We believe the United States and several other countries that do not want to see peace and stability in the Middle East are responsible.”
Rahmani said the attacks were aimed at “destabilizing the political situation in the region and spreading a sense of distrust in Iran,” refuting claims by Washington that the Iranian military’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was responsible for the June 13 attacks.
The attacks on a pair of oil tankers, one of which was operated by a Japanese company, unfolded as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Tehran in a bid to ease friction between Iran and the United States.
Tensions flared again last week after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down a U.S. surveillance drone.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview with NBC over the weekend that he does not want a war with Iran, and that he is willing to meet with the country’s leadership without preconditions.
But Rahmani called the overture an “act of deception” that cannot be trusted. “If President Trump is truly sincere, the United States should return to the nuclear deal and lift its sanctions,” he said at the Japan National Press Club.
Iran has halted some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, saying it will exceed the limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile on Thursday, in response to the United States pulling out of the deal last year and reinstating powerful sanctions on its oil exports.
But Rahmani said his country remains committed to the agreement as long as other countries hold up their end of the bargain.
“Why should such an internationally crucial agreement rest solely on Iran’s shoulders? If the international community does not want the deal to fall apart, it has to come up with concrete steps to save it,” he said.