September 22, 2019 / 5:54 AM / a month ago

Iran to present plan for Gulf security at U.N. this week

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will present a plan for creating security in the Gulf in cooperation with other countries in the region when he attends the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.

Saudi Arabia and the United States accuse Iran of attacking Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14, the biggest such assault on the world’s top oil exporter.

Iran denies involvement in the attack, which was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi movement, a group aligned with Iran and currently fighting a Saudi-led alliance in Yemen’s civil war.

“This year we will present a plan to the world at the United Nations that the Islamic Republic of Iran in cooperation with the countries of the region can create security for the Persian Gulf and the Oman sea with the help of the countries of the region,” Rouhani was cited as saying on his official website.

He did not provide further details.

Rouhani will travel to New York on Monday and return to Tehran on Thursday, the official news agency IRNA reported, citing a communications official in Rouhani’s office.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday approved sending American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defences after the attacks on Saudi oil sites.

Rouhani said the presence of foreign forces in the region would create insecurity for oil and shipping.

Saudi Arabia has described the strikes on the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities as a test of whether there is global will to preserve international order, and will seek to form a united front at the United Nations General Assembly.

“We are not someone who will violate the borders of others just as we will not allow anyone to violate our borders,” Rouhani said at a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the start of Iran’s 1980-1988 war with Iraq, according to his website.

Separately, the head of Iran’s navy said the Islamic Republic would defend itself against any aggression.

“In case of any miscalculation and aggression by the enemy, (the navy), along with other armed forces of the country, will give the most crushing reaction in the shortest time possible,” Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was cited as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Ballistic missiles, speedboats and warships were shown in video footage on state TV as part of the ceremonies.

A domestically built long-range, surface-to-air missile air defence system, the Bavar-373, which Iranian media have described as a competitor to the Russian S-300 missile system, was also on display, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Last year, gunmen attacked a military parade commemorating the anniversary in the city of Ahvaz, killing 25, about half of whom were members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

At the time, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran, accused Saudi Arabia of backing the attackers, which Riyadh denied.

The United States on Friday imposed another round of sanctions on Tehran, including on Iran’s central bank and a development fund.

Trump’s wide range of sanctions, which have targeted Iran’s foreign minister and the Guards among others, are part of a U.S. campaign to increase economic pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme and regional ambitions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the U.S. sanctions policy is not working.

“The U.S. is running out of options. The maximum sanctions do not work,” Zarif said in an interview with CGTN, a Chinese state-run English channel, which was published on Sunday.

He added, “They want to make the negotiations impossible... want to make a change impossible.”

FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey, September 16, 2019. Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS

War could break out, Zarif said.

“I’m not confident that we can avoid a war. We- I’m confident that we will not start one but I’m confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it,” Zarif said in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” programme.

He added, “That means that there won’t be a limited war.”

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Sam Holmes, Raissa Kasolowsky and Giles Elgood

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