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20 Jul, 2019 01:43

US pressure & EU inaction left Iran with ‘very few options’ except to retaliate

US pressure & EU inaction left Iran with ‘very few options’ except to retaliate

The seizure of British-owned oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz is the signal that Iran's patience has run out, due to European inaction for over a year after the US pullout from the nuclear deal, analysts told RT.

Prior to May, Iran exercised extreme restraint despite US sanctions and its frustration with Europe’s failure to offset the losses they caused, Hamed Mousavi, political science professor at the University of Tehran, said.

Eventually, Iran’s patience ran out, but not before the US “made sure that Iran has very few options remaining.”

Also on rt.com ‘Escalatory violence’: Washington reacts to Tehran seizing British tanker

“For a year Tehran was not doing anything and was abiding by the nuclear deal to the letter in the hopes that the Europeans would come up with a form of a mechanism… that would allow Iran to circumvent the US sanctions,” Mousavi said.

By refusing to hold back any longer, Iran wants to send a clear signal to the UK, “but especially to the Americans,” that Tehran has “the means and the power to respond to pressure and to aggression.” Iran’s actions are also a response to the US military build-up at its Middle East doorstep, Mousavi said.

Iranian journalist and Middle East expert Abbas Aslani agreed that the US withdrawal was what triggered the crisis along with the “inaction of the Europeans.”

The US might flex its military muscles in the Persian Gulf, but it's likely not looking forward to entangling itself in a major war with Iran, especially with the US presidential election inching closer. In part, it is because Iran has convinced the US that it would never be a short, victorious war.

“What [US President Donald Trump] might be after is a short and quick attack against the country, but Iran has made sure through the channels it has that no quick war will happen if the Americans attack the country.”

Instead, the US would be looking at a long campaign that could see Iran attacking its military bases and interests in the region, the type of bog-down that can cost Trump his re-election.

This can be an all-out war in the region, which will be very bloody and costly

Iran seized two British-operated vessels in the State of Hormuz on Friday, one of which has since been released after reportedly receiving warnings over safety and environmental issues.

The other vessel, the Stena Impero, is still in Iranian custody after being accused of maritime violations. Iran claimed that the tanker turned off its tracking device and ignored warnings before the seizure. The UK has denounced the incident as “unacceptable” but said that it hopes to resolve it through diplomacy.

'UK had the choice to stop the crisis'

It’s “a sure bet” that the ships were seized in retaliation to the UK's behavior, Kevin Afrasiabi, a former adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, told RT. Afrasiabi said he believes the British government could have easily avoided inflaming the standoff with Iran if it released the Iranian oil tanker it seized two weeks ago, thus “foolishly inserting itself in the crisis between Iran and Washington.”

Instead of putting an end to the crisis, the UK “decided to continue to appease Washington war-mongers by aiding an illegal oil embargo imposed on Iran unilaterally by the US" and militarizing the Gulf.

Also on rt.com ‘Playing part in anti-Tehran policy?’ UK marines seize ship with alleged Iranian crude for Syria

Earlier this week, it was revealed that a third major UK warship will set off for the Persian Gulf mid-September. The UK already has one warship permanently stationed in the waterway, and another one is currently sailing towards the Gulf to relieve it.

London “thinks it can just trample on the rights of third world nations with impunity and expect the other side to lie down and die,” Afrasiabi said – but that "will not happen with Iran.” On the other hand, if the UK takes a step back now and releases the tanker, the ex-adviser believes Iran will reciprocate.

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