As Washington and Tehran cause rising tensions, the international community fears the situation will spiral out of control.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and American President Donald Trump have been pointing the finger at each other since the attack on two oil tanker ships in the Gulf of Oman on June 13.
Every day, the tension is rising a little more between the United States and Iran. Cut deeply after being nominally accused by Washington — which released photos on Wednesday, June 12, meant to implicate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps — of being responsible for the attack targeting two tanker ships in the Gulf of Oman, Tehran has launched a counterattack.
On June 17, the Islamic Republic announced its intentions to soon breach the limit for stockpiling enriched uranium required for making atomic bombs as laid out by the limitation agreement in its nuclear program. This warning was particularly directed at Europeans, whom Tehran accuses of doing nothing to limit the effect of American economic sanctions which have resulted in big Western companies leaving Iran.
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Certainly, preparation for this was most likely already underway before the oil tanker sabotage affair. But the Iranians, whose economy is suffocating and is in the grip of galloping inflation, did not want to wait any longer to kill two birds with one stone: defying the Americans and making the Europeans face up to their responsibilities.
Some hours after Tehran’s nuclear announcement, the Pentagon, in turn, announced the authorization of 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address “hostile behavior” from Iran. Then on Tuesday, June 18, the Islamic Republic added fuel to the fire by claiming to have dismantled a “big CIA spy network.” It does not matter that evidence is lacking in this circumstance, since what the Americans revealed to implicate Iran is no more convincing.
1 Incident Could Ignite a Fire
Even if Washington and Tehran alike guarantee they do not want a war, the situation is seriously troubling to the other powers. Allied with Iran, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is calling everyone to “show restraint,” whereas China is asking Americans and Iranians to “remain rational and restrained” and “not to open a Pandora’s box.”
While London is rallying behind Washington, the European Union is sensibly asking for clarification of the circumstances surrounding the attack on the oil tankers. Wanting to avoid an escalation, French President Emmanuel Macron has called on Tehran to be “patient and responsible.”
Although surrounded by “hawks” — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton — and even if he had sworn to bring Tehran’s regime to its knees, Trump will do everything to avoid military engagement. In an address on national television, Rouhani also promised that his country does “not seek war with any country.”
In the end, the fact remains that tension is mounting; one incident could ignite a fire. That is what the international community fears, conscious of the harm that would result from a military as well as from an economic perspective. It is in this corner of the globe that one third of the world’s oil passes through, transported by sea.