Stakes Raised by Lack of Iran-US Communication

Zarif does not think war between Iran and the United States is imminent, but says "accidents can happen", which could then spiral into a military conflict
Stakes Raised by Lack of Iran-US Communication Stakes Raised by Lack of Iran-US Communication

A lack of communication between Tehran and Washington has heightened concerns over a potential conflict in the strategic Persian Gulf, Iran's chief diplomat said. 
In a recent interview with The Independent in New York, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif added that he does not think war between Iran and the United States is imminent.
However, he said "accidents can happen", which could then spiral into a military conflict. 
Asked about these "accidents", Zarif gave the example of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway where most of the world's oil exporters pass through.
As Iranian forces control the strait and communicate with ships going through this narrow passageway, a lack of this vital communication can easily lead to conflict, The Independent reported. 
Concerns over this were ratcheted up recently by US President Donald Trump's designation of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps as a terrorist organization and Iran's retaliation in designating the US Central Command as the same. 
Zarif mentioned the January 2016 incident in the Persian Gulf when two US Navy boats entered Iranian waters and were captured by IRGC. 
Back then, Zarif and his American counterpart John Kerry had a direct line of communication following their two years of nuclear negotiations. That direct line let the two top diplomats control the situation, secure the quick release of American sailors and prevent a potential escalation. 
But today there is no such line of communication between the Iranian foreign minister and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. So a similar incident in the Persian Gulf could quickly get out of hand.


American Public

While in the United States, Zarif implied that he wants to reach out directly to the American public and warn them of the possibility of another war in the Middle East, The Independent said. 
The foreign minister made a long speech at the prominent New York organization Asia Society, had meetings with American journalists, spoke with researchers at think tanks, academics and influential Iranians living in the United States, and also gave a round of sit-down interviews to various American television channels and media outlets.
Asked about his recent interview with Fox News, the US-educated architect of the 2015 nuclear deal said he wanted to reach out to Trump's base in mainstream America "because it is important to speak to the other side sometimes".
He added that this was not his first interview with Fox and that he had talked to the channel years ago when he was Iran's ambassador at the United Nations in New York.
Zarif said on Fox that what he calls the "B-Team" is trying to drag Trump into conflict with Iran. He explained that the B-Team includes Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 
He emphasized that Trump ran on a campaign promise of not bringing the US into another war.



Prisoner Swap

On a potential prisoner exchange between Iran and the US, Zarif said the swap would be between Americans detained in Iran and Iranians detained for sanctions violations in the US or elsewhere. 
The swap, he elaborated, would not include Europeans like British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been detained in Iran for three years. 
If it comes to fruition, this would not be the first prisoner swap between Tehran and Washington. 
During negotiations between Iran and the United States, which ultimately led to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, there was a direct prisoner exchange between the two countries. 
Trump was a vocal critic of that exchange and this has put him in a difficult position today.

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