Sep 22, 2019, 2:19 PM
Journalist ID: 2078
News Code: 83485710
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Diplomatic face-off in New York

Tehran, September 22, IRNA- Considering Iran's retaliatory measures in scaling back parts of its nuclear commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Islamic Republic has the opportunity to shift the international atmosphere at this year's United Nations General Assembly towards itself, along with continued negotiations with its European partners and giving them another chance to revive the nuclear agreement.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif left Tehran for New York to attend the 74th annual session of the UN General Assembly as the Middle East remains tense due to a series of recent developments, including Saudi Arabia's attempts to ignite a war against Iran following its downing of an American drone over the Strait of Hormuz and the Yemeni airstrikes on an oil processing facility and nearby oil field in Saudi Arabia. Tehran's active diplomacy, however, resulted in Riyadh's failure in drawing the United States into a war with Iran and Washington stuck to its policy of maximum pressure towards the country.

Meanwhile, the Iranian foreign minister has made clear that a retaliatory attack by the US, Saudi Arabia or both could result in an "all-out war," further pushing up tensions across the Persian Gulf.

Asked by CNN what would be the consequence of the US or Saudi strike, Zarif said, "All-out war."

It would cause "a lot of casualties," he stressed.

"I am making a very serious statement that we don't want to engage in a military confrontation," Zarif said. "But we won't blink to defend our territory."

He added that any sanctions placed by the US on Iran after pulling out of the nuclear deal would need to be lifted before any negotiations could be considered.

"They've done whatever they could and they haven't been able to bring us to our knees," Zarif said.

Also on Friday, the Iranian top diplomat questioned US plans for a coalition for a "peaceful resolution" in the Middle East while listing repeated Iranian diplomatic initiatives.

"Coalition for Peaceful Resolution?," Zarif said in a statement on Twitter, and listed eight diplomatic initiatives by Iran since 1985, including a peace plan for Yemen in 2015, and a regional non-aggression pact for the Gulf region proposed earlier this year.

In another tweet, Zarif accused the United States of valuing oil more than people in the Middle East, before leaving for New York for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations next week, state media said.

"Arab blood vs. Arab oil / A primer on U.S. policy: 4 yrs of indiscriminate bombardment of Yemen, 100,000 dead Yemenis, 20M malnourished Yemenis, 2.3M cholera cases, carte (blanche) for culprits," Zarif tweeted.

"Retaliatory Yemeni strike on oil storage tanks = unacceptable "act of war," he added, in reference to the September 14 attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure, which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called an "act of war" against the world's largest oil exporter.

This is while many experts believe launching an attack on Iran could spark a regionwide war that will protect no one and that the best way for Washington to defend American allies and promote peace and stability in the Persian Gulf is to de-escalate by reviving the Iran nuclear deal and ending American support for the brutal Saudi-led war in Yemen.  

With the prospect of a military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran hanging in the balance, agile diplomacy will be paramount for all sides. On Sunday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani noted that Tehran would present to the UN a regional cooperation plan for peace.

"In this sensitive and important historical moment, we announce to our neighbors, that we extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood to them," Rouhani said in a televised speech at an annual military parade.

Under these circumstances, American and Saudi representatives at the UN seem to face exceptionally high hurdles to making a credible case for the Security Council to take action against Iran. While they may be able to persuade permanent members Britain and France to back any proposed resolution targeting Iran, they are likely to encounter resistance from China and Russia, and deep skepticism from the other nonpermanent members of the council. Saudi Arabia’s destructive military adventurism in neighboring Yemen has done little to endear the Saudi kingdom to the international community. The world has likewise grown leery of the Trump administration’s remonstrations against Iran, as many views his decision to walk away from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 as the proximate cause of the current heightened tensions.

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