Iran Warns It Is Using ‘Maximum Restraint’ Against ‘Unacceptable’ U.S. Actions

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2L) give a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, on April 17, 2019. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran praised its own self control Wednesday in using “maximum restraint”  against what it called Washington’s “unacceptable” escalation in tensions in the Middle East.

“The escalation by the United States is unacceptable,” Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in Tokyo where he is meeting Japanese officials.

“We exercise maximum restraint… in spite of the fact that the United States withdrew from JCPOA last May,” he said, referring to the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

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

Zarif was referring to the JCPOA signed in 2015 by the United States, Iran and other countries, under which Tehran curbed its uranium enrichment capacity and won sanctions relief in return.

The deal was brokered by then-U.S. President Barack Obama. It was rejected by U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 after being described by him as “one-sided.”

“The JCPOA, a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos,” the president wrote at the time.

Iran’s increasingly strident anti-U.S. rhetoric comes after the White House announcement 10-days ago it would send the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers into the Persian Gulf to counter Tehran. The Lincoln passed through the Suez Canal last Thursday on its way to its new assignment, as Breitbart News reported.

On Wednesday the U.S. ordered the partial evacuation of its Baghdad embassy and consulate in Arbil citing specific threats posed by Iraqi militias alleged controlled by Tehran.

Despite the growing local tensions, Mr. Trump has repeatedly argued for avoiding long-term conflicts in the Middle East.

On Tuesday he discounted a New York Times report that the U.S. has updated plans that could send up to 120,000 troops to counter Iran if it attacked American forces.

“I think it’s fake news, OK? Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully, we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” the president told reporters on the White House’s South Lawn ahead of his trip to Louisiana.

AFP contributed to this report

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