Iran urges diplomacy to lower tensions, but decries tanker incident
October 15 2019 01:16 AM
Iranian Presidency
A handout picture provided by the Iranian Presidency yesterday shows President Hassan Rouhani speaking during a press conference in Tehran.


Iran yesterday urged regional powers to use diplomacy to reduce tensions including Yemen’s war, but cautioned that an Iranian tanker damaged in the Red Sea last week had been hit by rockets and there would have to be consequences.
Addressing a news conference, President Hassan Rouhani reiterated policy towards the Trump administration, ruling out bilateral talks unless Washington returns to a landmark nuclear deal and lifts crippling US economic sanctions.
Tensions in the Gulf have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the administration of President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 accord with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for the easing of sanctions.
Rouhani said diplomacy was the way solve differences.
“Ending the war in Yemen will pave the ground for de-escalation in the region,” Rouhani told a news conference, broadcast live on state TV.
“We want peace and calm in the region...regional crisis can be resolved through diplomacy and co-operation between the regional countries.”
Rouhani, restating Iran’s stance, said Tehran will continue to reduce its nuclear commitments until European parties to the pact save it by protecting Iran’s economy from US penalties.
Iran has responded to US “maximum pressure” by scaling back commitments since May and threatened to continue removing curbs on its nuclear programme unless European parties to the pact did more to shield Iran’s economy from the US penalties.
Britain, France and Germany, all parties to the pact, have urged Iran to refrain from any concrete act breaching the pact.
“The European countries have failed to fulfil their promises. We will continue to decrease our nuclear commitments,” Rouhani said. “We will start working on IR-7 and IR-9 centrifuges.”
Under the deal, Iran is allowed limited research and development on advanced centrifuges, which accelerate the production of fissile material that can be used to make a nuclear bomb.
Iran also agreed to limitations on specific research and development activities for eight years.
Rouhani said an Iranian tanker, the Sabiti, damaged in the Red Sea on Friday had been hit by at least two rockets, and adding that the incident had been caught on video.
There has been no independent report on the cause of the damage. 
Rouhani, speaking live on state television yesterday, said the attack was undoubtedly carried out by a government and that there would be consequences.

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