Iran says exercising restraint despite 'unacceptable' escalation of US sanctions

Khamenei says the Iranian nation has chosen the path of resistance. — AFP  File

Senior State Department officials are trying to tamp down concerns about the move to evacuate non-essential personnel from two diplomatic facilities in Iraq, while backing up the administration's intelligence of an Iranian threat.

Iran has said it will partially suspend its own commitments under the deal and restart parts of its nuclear program, including enriching uranium, if the world does not find a way to ease the damage of USA sanctions that have devastated its economy.

His comments came amid increasing tensions with the USA and President Donald Trump's decision to station an aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, and a bomber jet squadron in the region.

Mr Trump then stirred the controversy further by saying: "Would I do that?"

On Tuesday, Spain ordered a naval frigate to leave the Gulf, in an effort to show that the country is not part of the USA military presence there. That was followed by the unusual public challenge to the Trump administration by Maj Gen Ghika.

His visit came after Washington announced the deployment of an aircraft-carrier battle group and a bomber task force to the Middle East, which USA official said was in response to threats from Iran to the interests of the United States or its allies in the region.

Why have US-Iran tensions escalated?

"They know it will not be in their interest".

A British generalthrew a wrenchinto the Trump administration'snarrativethat Iran is plotting attacks on American troops in the Middle East by telling reporters gathered at the Pentagon Tuesday that "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces" in the region.

In a written statement, Central Command said the coalition in Baghdad has increased the alert level for all service members in Iraq and Syria.

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Separately, the Netherlands' defense ministry said it was suspending a training mission in Iraq due to "threats", according to the Dutch ANP news agency.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that the US must avoid war with Iran, and she declared the White House has "no business" moving toward a Middle East confrontation without approval from Congress. Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that.

"There is a new efflorescence, a new renaissance of relations between us and many of our Arab neighbors and many non-Arab Muslim countries".

Talking more about USA military action against Iran under the pretext of allegations that Iran is preparing strikes against U.S. forces in the Middle East, the article said: "The United States is poorly prepared for another conflict in the region; it has the support of none of its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, not even - as Mr. Hunt made clear - Britain". "We need a strategy", Coons said, echoing a call by Congress for the government to brief lawmakers.

The US administration has backed out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, slapped stringent sanctions targeting the country's economy, placed Iran's Revolutionary Guards on its terrorist list and pressured US allies to stop trading with Iran.

"We exercise maximum restraint in spite of the fact the United States withdrew from JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) last May", Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, at the start of their meeting in Tokyo.

In a speech to state officials delivered on Tuesday, Khamenei said escalating tensions with the US will remain a diplomatic confrontation, rather than the beginning of a major military clash, France24 reported.

"Anti-US sectarian militias may also threaten US citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq", it said. Abe also told Zarif that he was concerned about growing tension in the Middle East.

The move came 10 days after the White House ordered a United States aircraft carrier task force and B-52 bombers to the Gulf to prepare to respond to any Iranian-directed strike against U.S. interests or allies in the region. As of Tuesday, the Lincoln and its strike group had passed through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea.

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