EghtesadOnline: Iran does not want to see anything happen that could further raise tensions in the region, says a senior diplomat, who insists that war is not an option for the country.
"We are not interested in the escalation of tensions in our region because if something goes wrong, everybody will lose—including Iran, including the US, including all the countries in the region," Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi told NPR in a recent interview about escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington.
Asked about the US claim that militias backed by Iran could be preparing to target US forces in the region, he said it is a "fake" allegation aimed at triggering a conflict.
Tensions between Iran and the US have intensified, as US President Donald Trump's administration designated the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps a terrorist organization and stepped up sanctions pressure by ending waivers for some countries to purchase Iranian oil in an attempt to curtail the country's regional influence, Financial Tribune reported.
The United States recently pulled some diplomatic staff from its embassy in Baghdad following attacks on four oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, according to Reuters. It has also dispatched warships and bombers to the Middle East to deter what it claims are Iranian threats.
Takht-Ravanchi said the Islamic Republic is not seeking a military confrontation.
"We are not interested in war. We are not planning for a war. War is not an option for Iran. But at the same time, we have to be prepared for any action against our forces, against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iran. Therefore, we are vigilant," he said.
The envoy said Tehran is doing everything possible to calm the situation in the region.
"But unfortunately, there are certain people, both in Washington as well as in our region, who are interested in escalating the tension, who are interested in agitating the situation in the region, in provoking. And I believe that it is in everybody's interest to prevent such an eventuality."
On whether there could be people in Iran who are trying to provoke the US in the region, Takht-Ravanchi said Tehran is not heading toward a conflict as Iran's Leader has stressed that the country is not interested in war.
"So we are not going to prepare anything for a conflict. And this is being said at the highest level of our system."
Asked if Iran could take defensive measures that could be viewed by Washington as preparing for a battle, the ambassador said the country should prepare itself for defensive measures but is not interested in provoking it.
"We are not going to do anything which can be interpreted as an offensive act by Iran. But at the same time, it is our right to be prepared. It is our right to defend ourselves."
Asked if the US has a right to take a tougher posture after Iran's decision to halt some of its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, the senior diplomat said the move does not violate the agreement.
"What we have done is exactly to preserve the deal," he said, adding that the decision is in accordance with the legal mechanisms stipulated in the accord, which Trump abandoned last year.
"It is based on our rights to lower our commitments, to somehow try not to do certain things that we were doing in the past. Therefore, it is our right to act in accordance with the nuclear deal."
Iran recently announced that it has stopped selling unspent enriched uranium and heavy water—which is used in nuclear reactors—to other nations.
Under the nuclear deal, Tehran was allowed to produce low-enriched uranium with a 300-kg limit and produce heavy water with a stock capped around 130 tons. It could ship the excess amounts out of the country for storage or sale.
Iran has warned that unless the world powers protect its economy from US sanctions within 60 days, it would start enriching uranium at higher level.