Iran exercising 'maximum restraint' despite US withdrawal from nuclear deal: Zarif

Sabotage attacks were carried out last week on oil-carrying vessels but many questions remain unanswered

Sabotage attacks were carried out last week on oil-carrying vessels but many questions remain unanswered

Iran should now be targeted following its attacks against Saudi oil infrastructure - first bomb attacks on two Saudi tankers, followed by drone strikes on two pumping stations - the paper said in an English-language editorial.

At the root of the recent spike in Persian Gulf tensions appears to be Trump's decision a year ago to pull the US from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, embarking on a maximalist sanctions campaign against Tehran to cripple the country's economy.

The United Arab Emirates warned the Western-backed coalition, of which it is a main member, would "retaliate hard" for any Houthi attacks on coalition targets.

Yemen's Houthi rebels, who are at war with Saudi Arabia and are believed by the West to receive weapons from Iran, said they launched seven drones targeting vital Saudi installations.

On Wednesday, the United States cited threats as it ordered its non-emergency government staff to leave Iraq. The U.S. military's Central Command said without elaborating that its troops were on high alert.

Last week, USA officials said they had detected signs of Iranian preparations for potential attacks on US forces and interests in the Middle East, but Washington has not publicly provided any evidence to back up claims of an increased Iranian threat. The U.S. Consulate in Basra has been closed since September following a rocket attack blamed on Iranian-backed militias. The US has already strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers and the USS Abraham Lincoln strike group in response to alleged Iranian threats (shown top left).

While briefing a National Assembly panel a day earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said that the government was watching the evolving situation and would take decisions as per its national interest.

Iran and the United States have engaged in a war of words in recent weeks since Tehran began to roll back commitments set out in its landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Tensions have been rising in the Gulf since the United States stopped granting waivers to buyers of Iranian oil and slapped crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic after President Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

"We have requested Saudi Arabia for additional oil".

It was revealed today that two Saudi tankers - one due to pick up oil destined for America - were left with "significant damage" after being sabotaged off the UAE on Sunday.

The damage to the Andrea Victory ship is seen off the Port of Fujairah.

'We need to address Iran's behavior clearly, but at the same time not to be baited into crisis, ' Gargash said in an interview with Bloomberg Television late on Wednesday. He declined to directly blame Iran for the attack, though he repeatedly criticized Iran.

The United States withdrew staff from its embassy in Iraq on Wednesday out of apparent concern about threats from Iran, with USA sources saying they believe Iran encouraged the attacks on the oil tankers.

The International Energy Agency said on Wednesday that Iranian crude oil output fell in April to 2.6 million barrels per day, the lowest level in over five years.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he hoped the U.S. was not heading to war with Iran as he met with Switzerland President Ueli Maurer, whose nation has served as a diplomatic conduit between the two countries.

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