Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated his charge that a group of foreign powers plus U.S. President Donald Trump's national security advisor want to "lure" the U.S. into a confrontation with Iran that Trump himself does not want in an interview that aired on Fox News network Sunday, but which was recorded on Friday.
"They have all shown an interest in dragging the United States into a conflict," Zarif said of Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates plus White House National Security Advisor John Bolton when asked during the Fox News interview if he really thought they are all trying to "exercise regime change".
"At least, at least," Zarif answered. "(But) I do not believe that President Trump wants to do that. I believe President Trump ran on a campaign promise of not bringing the United States into another war," Zarif added.
Earlier in the week, Zarif dubbed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed bin Zayed, and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, along with Bolton, as the "B Team", saying they were pushing U.S. policy on Iran.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the Trump administration withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran and began ratcheting up sanctions.
Earlier this month, the United States demanded buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May or face sanctions and blacklisted Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), saying it was behind pro-Iranian militia that had caused the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq.
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"That's a new charge," Zarif told Fox News in reference to the IRGC blacklisting, "and it's a very dangerous accusation because I believe the 'B team' wants to actually push the United States, lure President Trump into a confrontation that he doesn't want," he said.
"President Trump himself has said that (the U.S.) spent seven trillion dollars in our region," Zarif said during the interview. "The United States came to our region, spent seven trillion dollars and the only outcome of that was that we have more terror, we have more insecurity, we have more instability. People in our region are making the determination that the presence of the United States is inherently destabilizing. I think President Trump agrees with that." he continued.
Zarif said separately on Sunday that Iran could quit a treaty against the spread of nuclear weapons after the United States tightens sanctions.
"The Islamic Republic's choices are numerous, and the country's authorities are considering them ... and leaving NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) is one of them," state broadcaster IRIB's website quoted Zarif as saying.
"Nobody is happy with the fact that the United States is trying to impose its will on the rest of the international community," Zarif told Fox News. "You know that. This is coercion, pure and simple. People are not happy. China is not happy. Turkey is not happy. Russia is not happy. France is not happy. U.S. allies are not happy that this this is happening. And they say that they will find ways of resisting it," Zarif said.
The Europeans have said they would help companies do business with Iran as long as it abides by the deal, but Tehran has criticized what it sees as the slow pace of progress on a promised payment mechanism for Iran-Europe trade.