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Iran's Zarif: US arms sales turning Gulf region into a 'tinderbox'

Zarif made the comments during a visit to Qatar. [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 August, 2019

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Tensions between Tehran and Washington have seen a steep rise since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a nuclear accord between Iran and world powers and reimposed sanctions.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the United States on Monday of transforming the Gulf into a "tinderbox" with its arms sales to regional allies.

"The US (sold) $50 billion worth of weapons to the region last year. Some of the countries in the region with less than a third of our population spend $87 billion on military procurement," Zarif told Qatar's Al Jazeera broadcaster during a visit to the Gulf state.

Washington is pursuing a "maximum pressure" campaign designed to force Iran to limit its nuclear and military activities.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have seen a steep rise since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a nuclear accord between Iran and world powers in May 2018, reimposing biting sanctions.

"If you are talking about threats coming from the region, the threats are coming from the US and its allies who are pouring weapons into the region, making it a tinderbox ready to blow up," Zarif said.

Washington is seeking to assemble a coalition to secure maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz -- key to the global oil trade - following a number of attacks on oil tankers blamed by Washington on Tehran.

Iran strongly denies involvement.

While in Qatar, Zarif met with Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and discussed "issues of common interest", the state-run Qatar News Agency reported.

Doha is a close ally of Washington and hosts the largest US military base in the region, while also maintaining cordial ties with Iran.

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