The Iranian threat to close down the strategic Strait of Hormuz was criticized by the United Arab Emirates and Iraq on Monday, who said the move would result in economic shortcomings.
“Iraq is against escalation and against dealing with these differences using military force but with dialogue,” Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters at a joint news conference with his Emirati counterpart in Abu Dhabi, AFP news agency reported.
“There is a major confidence crisis with Iran and we also see ourselves as a country that overlooks the Gulf and is definitely affected by tension and escalation,” Zebari said, adding 90 percent of Iraqi oil exports pass through Hormuz.
Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a key to global oil exports from Arabian Gulf states, in response to Western sanctions recently imposed on Iran.
Western powers believe Iran’s nuclear program masks a weapons drive supported by a new nuclear site which has recently started operations, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Tehran, however, insists that the nuclear activity is for peaceful purposes, including civilian energy and medical purposes.
Both Israel and the United States are seeking tough new international sanctions on Tehran, particularly on its oil exports and financial institutions.
Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan echoed Zebari’s remarks.
“Any talk on waterways and especially Hormuz has an effect on us,” Sheikh Abdullah said. “We will do everything possible to defuse the crisis.”
“I don’t think the escalation will serve the region or the markets’ stability,” he added.
European Union foreign ministers next week are expected to impose additional sanctions on Iran targeting its oil exports and possibly also its central bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said on Monday that the sanctions already imposed on Iran by the United States and the European Union were not enough to force Tehran to halt its nuclear program.
“As long as there won’t be real and effective sanctions against Iran’s petroleum industry and central bank, there will be no real effect on Iran’s nuclear program,” Netanyahu told MPs at a parliamentary committee, with his remarks transmitted by a spokesman, AFP news agency reported.
“The current sanctions employed against Iran harm the Iranians, but not in a way that could bring to a halt in the country’s nuclear program,” he said.
“Without significant sanctions on the central bank and petroleum exports, Iran will continue to advance its nuclear plans.”