German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas_REUTERSPhoto: Reuters

Germany: U.S. Policy on Iran is “Wrong”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas rejected an official request by the United States to participate in a U.S.-led naval mission, which aims to secure the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran has stepped up its aggressive behavior.

Berlin’s top minister emphasized that Germany will continue to solely pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis and views the American policy of applying maximum pressure as “wrong,” stating that “Germany will not participate in the planned naval mission put forward by the U.S. We are working in close contact with our French partners. We consider the strategy of applying maximum pressure to be wrong. We do not want a military escalation and will continue to rely on diplomacy.”/ “We will keep all channels open towards all sides and look for ways to build trust to defuse tensions. There can only be a diplomatic solution, there can be no military solution and I don’t know anyone who seriously believes this is the way.”

With regard to the Iranian operation, which saw commandos of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard seize a British-flagged oil tanker last month; Minister Maas stressed that Germany expects that Iran immediately releases the vessel, further warning Tehran that its decision to scale-back its nuclear commitments – from the 2015 multilateral deal – is unacceptable. “We also made it very clear to Iran that we expect the swift release of the British tanker and its crew and have made clear once again that we do not find the increasing moves away from the nuclear treaty an acceptable approach,” Maas said.

Iran has apparently signaled the United Kingdom that it was willing to release the British-flagged oil-tanker, in exchange for an Iranian tanker that was detained earlier last month by the British Royal Navy in Gibraltar. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab responded negatively to the Iranian proposal, as he underscored that the Iranian vessel was “detained legally,” as it was enrooted to deliver an oil shipment to Syria, which is in breach of EU sanctions. He declared that: “We are not going to barter: if people or nations have detained UK-flagged ships illegally, then the rule of law must be upheld, international law must be upheld. We are not going to barter a ship that was detained legally with a ship that was detained illegally: that’s not the way Iran will come in from the cold. The way Iran will come in from the cold is to start living up the responsibilities that all of us as nations have members of the international community.”

Meanwhile in Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “a few countries” proposals to try to salvage the nuclear agreement with world powers. The Iranian leader said in response, in an address on Iranian state television, that “We are in talks right now with a few countries. We are discussing, proposals have been given to us, but they were not balanced. We did not accept or approve them.”

Amid growing frustration across the Islamic Republic regarding crippling U.S. sanctions that have battered Tehran’s economy; Rouhani claimed that his country “will definitely prevail in this confrontation. I have no doubt. The problems might carry on for six months, one year. We can overcome these problems.”

Meanwhile in the Thai capital, Bangkok, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that the Islamic Republic’s economic pressure is effectively denying the Ayatollah regime resources to build a nuclear program that could threaten the entire world. During an official visit to Thailand, the American leader also took the opportunity to warn countries that seek to evade international sanctions that were imposed by Washington on Tehran. “The sanctions have been very effective, and we will enforce them everywhere, we will enforce them against any company, any country that continues to violate those sanctions. We have already imposed sanctions on one company inside of China. We will continue to do that; it is absolutely imperative that we deny the Ayatollah and Islamic Republic of Iran from having the wealth and resources to build the nuclear program that could threat anyone in the world,” Pompeo said.