TEHRAN — Iran accused its neighbors of making talks impossible through their “hasty and arrogant moves,” during a meeting between Tehran’s top security official and Oman’s chief diplomat on Saturday amid a tanker crisis.
Oman, a past mediator between Iran and its foes, sent its minister in charge of foreign affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi, to the Islamic republic amid amplified tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies, including in the Gulf.
“Some of the region’s countries have not only removed the possibility of talks because of hasty and arrogant moves and behavior, but have also made managing regional crises a serious challenge,” said Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, during the meeting in Tehran.
Shamkhani, who spoke after meeting with bin Alawi, also hit out at a British plan for a European coalition to escort tankers in the Gulf.
“Security measures for the region must use local capabilities and cooperation between regional countries, and foreign countries’ interference will achieve nothing but increase problems,” he said, quoted by the website of Iran’s state television.
Tensions in the Gulf have soared since last year when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions on the country.
In retaliation, Iran said in May it would disregard certain limits the deal set on its nuclear program and threatened to take further measures if remaining parties to the accord, especially European nations, did not help it circumvent US sanctions.
Tensions have escalated further in the region with a string of incidents involving tankers and drones.
The United States and Gulf powerhouse Saudi Arabia accused Iran of being behind multiple attacks on tankers in the Gulf in June, which Iran denies.
On July 19, a British-flagged tanker was impounded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards with its 23 crew aboard in the Strait of Hormuz.
The seizure was seen by London as a tit-for-tat move for British authorities detaining an Iranian tanker off the UK overseas territory of Gibraltar in early July it said was breaking sanctions by transporting oil to the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.
Shamkhani called on all countries to “respect international maritime law in order to maintain security.”
“In contrast to the British maritime piracy, who illegally detained an Iranian oil shipment in Gibraltar, Iran’s move was completely legal and was made in order to implement maritime rules and maintain maritime security,” he said.
Bin Alawi also held talks with Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Tehran on Saturday.
Oman has called for the release of the UK-flagged Stena Impero and for London and Tehran to resolve their dispute diplomatically.