TEHRAN last Wednesday threatened a ''dangerous confrontation'' in the Strait of Hormuz and escalating tension over Iranian state piracy in the Arabian Gulf.

All countries should be able to export their oil through the strait or else no one could, said Hossein Dehghan, a commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] and military adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Tehran would not negotiate with US under any circumstances and if Washington decided to go to war then all American bases in the region would be targeted, Dehghan said.

He accused Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, of becoming a US center to strike Iran's national security.

The maritime crisis in the Gulf began when IRCG forces boarded a British tanker last week and diverted it to an Iranian port, in retaliation for the British seizure in the Mediterranean of an Iranian tanker carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani hinted on Wednesday that the two vessels could be swapped.
''We don't want tensions with some European countries,'' Rouhani said.

If such countries were to seize the incorrect acts that they have done, including that of Gibraltar, Iran response would be appropriate.''

Rouhani also said that Iran would be open to talks should there be a ''cease fire'' in US economic sanctions that are crippling the Iranian economy.

''In this regard some countries are intermediaries, though themselves say that they are not mediators, and are just expressing their own views,'' he said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and top French diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Bonne have visited Tehran in the past month.

Meanwhile, the Israeli spy agency Shin Bet said security forces had uncovered Iranian intelligence efforts to recruit Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.

''The network was based in Syria under Iranian guidance and was led by a Syrian operative nicknamed Abu Jihad,'' it said.

''It attempted to recruit people via fictitious Facebook profiles and messaging apps. ''The recruits were asked to gather data on sites such as military bases and police stations with a view to providing Iran with potential Israeli targets.

Most refused to cooperate, Shin Bet said. [Agencies]


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