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Iran’s Zarif says “B-Team” wants war, not diplomacy, with Tehran

By Reuters 24 June 2019
Caption
epaselect epa07645392 The crude oil tanker Front Altair on fire in the Gulf of Oman, 13 June 2019. According to the Norwegian Maritime Authority, the Front Altair is currently on fire in the Gulf of Oman after allegedly being attacked and in the early morning of 13 June between the UAE and Iran. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

June 24 (Reuters) - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a tweet after U.S. imposed new sanctions on Tehran, said on Monday hawkish politicians close to U.S. President Donald Trump were thirsty for war rather than diplomacy.

Trump targeted Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior Iranian officials with new U.S. sanctions on Monday, looking for a fresh blow to Iran’s economy after Tehran’s downing of an unmanned American drone last week.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Zarif will be placed under sanctions this week.

“@realDonaldTrump is 100% right that the US military has no business in the Persian Gulf. Removal of its forces is fully in line with interests of US and the world. But it’s now clear that the #B_Team is not concerned with US interests—they despise diplomacy, and thirst for war,” he tweeted.

Zarif has in the past said that a so-called “B-team” including Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, an ardent Iran hawk, and conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could goad Trump into a conflict with Tehran.

A senior U.S. State Department official said on Monday that the United States is building a coalition with its allies to protect Gulf shipping lanes by having “eyes on all shipping”, following recent attacks on oil tankers that Washington blamed on Iran.

Tehran has denied any involvement in the explosive blasts that have hit six vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, near the Strait of Hormuz, through which almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes.

Zarif’s remark about the U.S. military having no business in the Gulf appeared to refer to an earlier tweet in which Trump said other countries should protect their own oil shipping in the Middle East rather than have the United States protect them. (Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by William Maclean)

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