Iran Says It Doesn’t Want Direct or Proxy War With US

An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches Monday from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on the Arabian Sea. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Sherman/U.S. Navy via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran will “under no circumstances” enter a war either directly or indirectly with the United States, a prominent reformist Iranian lawmaker said Wednesday, as Washington and Tehran try to ease heightened tensions in the region.

The reported comments by Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh come after the White House sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over an alleged, still-unexplained threat it said it perceived from Iran.

Since that development, Iran has said it will back away from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord that President Trump pulled America out of a year ago. The United Arab Emirates claimed that four oil tankers were sabotaged off its coast, and Iranian-allied rebels in Yemen have launched drone attacks into Saudi Arabia.

Falahatpisheh’s comments, reported by the semi-official ILNA news agency, carry heft, as he serves as the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission.

“Under no circumstance will we enter a war,” Falahatpisheh said, according to ILNA. “No group can announce that it has entered a proxy war from Iran’s side.”

Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Tehran has worked to leverage relationships with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and others to counter what it perceives as the threat from the United States’ vast military presence across the Mideast. Analysts believe that if attacked, Iran could rely on those militant groups to target American troops, Israel and other U.S. allies in the region.

On Monday, Iran said it had quadrupled its production capacity of low-enriched uranium. Iranian officials said the uranium would be enriched only to the 3.67% limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, making it usable for a power plant but far below what’s needed for an atomic weapon.

But by increasing production, Iran soon will exceed the stockpile limitations set by the nuclear accord. Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to set new terms for the deal, or it will enrich more closely to weapons-grade levels in a Mideast already on edge.

The U.S. Air Force said Wednesday that a B-52 bomber deployed to America’s vast Al-Udeid Air Base took part in a formation flight with Qatari fighter jets. That came as Qatar has grown closer to Iran after facing a nearly two-year boycott by four Arab nations allied with the United States.

“This flight was conducted to continue building military-to-military relationships” with Qatar, the Air Force said.

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