Iran favours talks but USA must lift sanctions: Hassan Rouhani

Iranian forces last month boarded a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz

Iran's naval forces detained the ship and its seven-member crew Wednesday in a "surprise operation", the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement carried by local news agencies. We remain committed to working with Iran and our global partners to de-escalate the situation and maintain the nuclear deal'. We are seeing, across our seas and oceans, too many incidents that seek to challenge such freedoms. State TV and other local media also ran footage of the ship, but did not show any flag or identifying marker for the vessel.

He did not specify what Iran's next step would be, but Tehran warned last month it could reactivate centrifuge machines and ramp up enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent fissile purity. The ship was eventually seized by IRGC due to failure to abide by worldwide regulations.

Guards commander Ramezan Zirahi was quoted as saying it was carrying 700,000 litres of fuel.

Iran, which has some of the world's cheapest fuel prices because of heavy state subsidies and the fall of its currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling by land to neighbouring countries and by sea to Gulf Arab states.

It was intercepted near Farsi Island and was escorted to Bushehr where the alleged contraband fuel was unloaded - in the third ship to have been seized in the last three weeks.

Italy, Denmark and France have also said they would back the United Kingdom navy but they have yet to commit.

But plans to launch the US-led mission - which US General Joseph Dunford first announced in early July - have been met with scepticism by several European leaders, who say it may escalate ongoing tensions in the region. Iran has denied the claims.

US President Donald Trump came close to retaliating, but called off an airstrike at the last moment.

"Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, war with Iran is the mother of all wars", Rouhani said.

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Maritime security in the region was further jolted in mid-July, when the Revolutionary Guard's naval forces confirmed they had seized a United Arab Emirates-based oil tanker, the Panamanian-flagged MT Riah, for allegedly smuggling fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers.

He also added, " Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars".

He continued: "I believe that the strategy here is to show what the costs of the United States sanctions strategy are and that trying to reduce Iran's oil exports has a effect".

It is unclear what countries would be interested in joining the efforts, but Germany has already said it definitively will not participate in any efforts-led by the United States at least-to secure the Gulf.

Tensions between Iran and the USA have been rising since Trump unilaterally withdrew the USA from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and began imposing sanctions on it as part of a "maximum pressure" campaign.

In response, the U.S. ambassador on disarmament Robert Wood said: "Iran simply needs to make up its mind to decide what it wants to do".

While holding a press conference here in Tehran on Tuesday on the occasion of national Journalist Day, Larijani partly touched upon regional and worldwide developments, including tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Since then, Iran has seized three oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, and is now holding two of them in Iranian waters.

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