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Iran accuses US of 'unacceptable' escalation in tensions

AFP  |  Tokyo 

accused the Thursday of an "unacceptable" escalation of tensions and said was showing "maximum restraint" despite Washington's withdrawal from a nuclear deal with world powers.

Tensions were already high after walked away a year ago from the accord which eased international sanctions in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program.

But strains have ratcheted up with the US deploying an group and bombers to the Gulf over alleged threats from

"The escalation by the is unacceptable," Iranian said in Tokyo, where he is holding talks with Japanese officials.

"We exercise maximum restraint... in spite of the fact that the withdrew from JCPOA last May," Zarif said earlier, referring to the agreement on Tehran's nuclear program known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

He added that remains "committed" to the deal, and said continuing assessments showed was in compliance with the multilateral agreement.

Later, Zarif told reporters there was "no possibility" of negotiations with the United States to reduce spiralling tensions, describing US pressure as an "act of suicide".

Zarif's comments came after the US on Wednesday ordered non-emergency staff evacuated from its due to an "imminent" threat from Iranian-linked Iraqi militias.

Two major pro-Iran armed groups in rejected suggestions the embassy personnel were at risk.

Nasr al-Shomari, a for the Iran-backed Harakat al-Nujaba, told AFP the claim was "a pretext" by to create "an uproar" in

But the move added to growing fears that the long-time rivals could be on course for conflict despite both sides stressing they have no desire for war.

Trump, however, predicted Iran would "soon" want to negotiate and denied there was any discord in the over moves that critics say could lead to war in the

"I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon," the tweeted.

He also blasted of turmoil over Iran, saying "there is no infighting whatsoever. Different opinions are expressed and I make a final and decisive decision."

Zarif late Thursday dismissed Trump's prediction of talks, telling reporters: "I don't know why Trump is confident." Opponents of Trump say hardliners led by John Bolton, who has long advocated toppling the Iranian regime, are pushing the country into war.

According to Iranian state media, Zarif is set to visit on Friday for discussions on "regional and international issues" including the 2015 nuclear deal with global powers.

Despite international scepticism, the has been pointing to increasing threats from Iran, a long-time enemy and also a rival of US allies and

Senior State Department officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the threat came from "commanded and controlled" by Tehran's

"It is directly linked to Iran, multiple threat streams directly linked to Iran," said one

"This is an imminent threat to our personnel," said a second

says it has received intelligence on possible attacks by Iranian or Iranian-backed forces, possibly targeting US bases in or

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday insisted the showdown with the United States was a mere test of resolve.

"This face-off is not military because there is not going to be any war. Neither we nor them (the US) seek war," he said.

US echoed that sentiment, saying in Sochi, Russia: "We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran." World powers have rushed to urge calm and US allies continued to show skepticism over Washington's alarm bells.

Britain's Chris Ghika, a for Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition fighting the jihadist Islamic State group, said Tuesday there was no special heightened alert.

After Ghika's comments drew a sharp retort from the US Central Command, Britain's defence ministry said Wednesday they have "long been clear about our concerns over Iran's destabilizing behaviour in the region" -- while still not confirming any new imminent danger.

Some observers speculate is seeking to retaliate over Washington's decision in April to put Iran's Revolutionary Guards on a terrorism blacklist -- a move designed to stymie their activities across the

But since the first US warning on May 5, the only incident has been a still-mysterious "attack" Monday on tankers anchored off Fujairah, an Emirati port located at the strategically crucial entrance to the Gulf.

One or more vessels incurred light hull damage, but what caused the damage and who was behind it remains unknown.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 22:01 IST