Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Saudi cabinet asks world to put a limit on Iran's 'aggressive behaviour'

Calls to limit Tehran's actions come amid bids to bring Trump and Rouhani together at UN General Assembly

US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. AFP
US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. AFP

Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet yesterday renewed the kingdom’s call for the international community “to put a limit” to what it described as Iran’s aggressive behaviour and “sabotage acts”.

The world’s top oil exporter said Iran was to blame for the September 14 attacks on Saudi oil facilities, rejecting a claim of responsibility by Yemen’s Iran-baked Houthi rebels. Tehran denies ­involvement.

The Saudi Press Agency quoted King Salman as saying that the attack represented a “dangerous escalation”.

On Monday, the US special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, called on the UN Security Council to extend its arms embargo and travel bans on some members of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

The Quds Force is the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“We know based on intelligence and open-source analysis that these attacks were conducted by Iran,” Mr Hook told the Asia Society in New York on Monday.

He said he expected that after the UN-led investigation and site examinations in Saudi Arabia were completed, the UN would reveal the origin of the attacks.

Under the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2015, the embargo and travel bans would expire in October next year.

At the UN General Assembly in New York, US President Donald Trump refused to rule out a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to organise a meeting between the pair but both sides have expressed doubt that any such meeting will take place.

“I never rule anything out,” Mr Trump said, but he had “nothing scheduled at this moment”.

The war of words continued yesterday, with a senior Iranian military official saying that enemies who try to attack Iran will face “captivity and defeat”. That came a day after Mr Rouhani gave a message of “peace and stability” to the world.

“We have repeatedly told the enemy that if there is any violation towards this country, they will face the same action that took place with the American drone and the English tanker,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, Maj Gen Mohammad Baqeri was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency.

Iran does not have any enmity towards Saudi Arabia or the UAE and both countries should stand by Tehran to secure the region, Maj Gen Baqeri said.

Mr Rouhani will present a plan for creating security in the Gulf in co-operation with other countries in the region when he attends the UN General Assembly this week.

Iran has made a series of escalatory moves, including seizing the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in July. This came two weeks after Britain detained an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar, ratcheting up tensions in the region following attacks on other merchant vessels which Washington blamed on Tehran.

The Stena Impero is still in Iran despite Iranian officials saying it was free to leave, Stena Bulk chief executive Erik Hanell said yesterday.

Iran’s ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad, tweeted on Monday that the Swedish-owned vessel was free to leave after legal hurdles had been cleared.

“She has moved during her time there to get fresh water, among other things, but is still in Bandar Abbas,” Mr Hanell said, adding that he had no information as to why the ship had not left Iran.

Relations between the US, its allies and Iran have become more strained since Washington withdrew last year from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

Relations between the United States, its allies and Iran have become more strained since Washington withdrew last year from a global pact aimed at reining in Tehran's nuclear programme and imposed sanctions on it aimed at shutting down Iranian oil exports.

Updated: September 24, 2019 09:41 PM

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