Zarif warns about mounting tensions, but also says that "nobody wants war."
Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif: We Can't "Discount" Possibility of War
On Thursday, National Interest Editor Jacob Heilbrunn interviewed Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in New York at the Ambassador’s residence on the current state of U.S.-Iran relations. The transcript has been lightly edited for readability.
Jacob Heilbrunn: With the American shooting down of an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz today, are we on a path of escalation?
Mohammed Javad Zarif: I checked with Tehran, and we do not have any information about having lost a drone today. So, we don’t know, as of now what has happened. We have the president saying that they shot a drone. We don’t know whose drone it is, but we don’t have that information. But we are certainly moving in the wrong direction. The fact that the United States has an increased presence in the Persian Gulf doesn’t help security or stability in the area—it’s a tiny body of water and you cannot have such congested traffic there without something happening.
Heilbrunn: A lot of the tension is also focused on the tanker that went missing. Is Iran responsible for that?
Zarif: All the information we have is that we confiscated a small tanker that was only carrying a million liters of smuggled oil products—not oil—and that happens quite often in the Persian Gulf because of heavily subsidized prices in Iran of oil products. There is a lot of smuggling from both sea and land borders and we interdict them on a regular basis. So if that is the tanker they’re talking about, that is a smuggling tanker, not a shipping tanker.
Heilbrunn: Another move that the Trump administration has announced is sending about five hundred more soldiers to Saudi Arabia. What is your response to that?