National

Iran's envoy to Japan denies responsibility for tanker attack, saying Trump 'doesn't deserve trust'

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump “does not deserve trust,” and no effective negotiations will be held unless Washington eases “pressure” against Tehran by lifting economic sanctions, the Iranian ambassador to Japan told a news conference in Tokyo on Monday.

“We are facing pressure and, under such a situation, no effective talks or negotiations would be held,” Morteza Rahmani Movahed told journalists at the Japan National Press Club through an interpreter who spoke in Japanese.

The ambassador said he feels “no sincerity” from the Trump administration, adding that Trump and some of his aides frequently make remarks that are not consistent with earlier statements on policy toward Iran.

“We cannot trust the words of President Trump,” he said.

Rahmani Movahed rejected U.S. allegations that Iran staged an attack on a Japanese tanker sailing in the Gulf of Oman on June 13.

“We strongly condemn the attack on the Japanese tanker. The source of the assault is the U.S. and several countries that do not want peace and stability in this region,” he said.

Within 24 hours of the mine attack the U.S. government announced it had determined that Iran plotted it, and “insulted Japan,” Rahmani Movahed said.

But this time span “was extremely short” and not sufficient to conduct any meaningful investigation, the ambassador said.

“For example, in Japan, would 24 hours be enough to determine the cause of a fire at a structure? It’s not enough,” he said.

The purpose of the attack was to “destabilize the political situation” in the region and “cause a sense of aversion against Iran,” the ambassador alleged. The Japanese tanker was attacked while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran to meet Iranian leaders, hoping his visit would ease tension between Iran and the U.S. But the mine attack further strained the relationship, with Washington and Tehran accusing each other of staging it.

Nonetheless, Rahmani Movahed praised Abe’s visit to Tehran, saying that Japan can play a major role in promoting peace and stability in the Persian Gulf.

“We consider Prime Minister Abe’s visit this time as a success,” he said.

Abe and Iranian leaders agreed to deepen the bilateral relationship, and Abe’s visit marked “a milestone,” he said.