Iran is ready to begin talks with the US on defusing tensions in the Persian Gulf, however, Washington has to alleviate the pressure on Tehran first, Hamidreza Azizi, assistant professor of regional studies at Shahid Beheshti University (Tehran) and member of the Valdai Discussion Club, told TASS on Thursday.
"Iran has made it clear that it does not rule out the possibility of dialogue with the USA, however, not in the conditions of increasing pressure. In other words, if the US lift sanctions against Iran in the oil and financial sector, the talks between the countries will become possible," he said.
The expert added that Tehran "may reconsider its steps on expanding the nuclear program and return to the level of enrichment stipulated under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear deal." According to Azizi, such actions "can lay the groundwork for further diplomatic cooperation."
"In current conditions, despite the escalation of tensions between Iran and the USA, both countries are reluctant to enter a military conflict," he noted. "However, in the conditions of high tensions, any mistake can lead to conflict."
According to the expert, some sides benefiting from raised tensions in the region may provoke Tehran to begin the conflict. "What is important is that despite the statements by US officials, any confrontation with Iran may spread far beyond the Iranian border and reach the entire region," he stated. "Which is why it is crucial to be prepared for any possible provocations, so that the situation would not get out of control."
On June 13, two oil tankers caught fire following an alleged attack in the Gulf of Oman. The crewmembers of Japan’s Kokuka Courageous tanker were rescued by the USS Bainbridge destroyer, while Iranian border guards took the crew of the Norway’s Front Altair tanker, which included Russian nationals, to the port of Jask. The US, supported by the UK and Saudi Arabia, blamed the incident on Iran that denied all accusations.
On Wednesday, CNN reported citing some US officials that five boats that could belong to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tried to stop a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. The tanker was reportedly leaving the Gulf when the boats approached it. The vessel’s crew was ordered to change course and stop in Iran’s territorial waters.
On July 11, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps denied reports saying that its boats were trying to impede a British tanker in the Persian Gulf.