TEHRAN (FNA) Iran on Sunday criticized Washington for using President Bush’s Middle East tour to spread anti-Iranian sentiment in the region. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini said yesterday that US officials are exaggerating a recent incident in the Persian Gulf to paint Iran in a negative light.
Washington says a fleet of Iranian naval boats threatened US warships in the Strait of Hormuz on January 6.
The Iranian spokesman dismissed the naval encounter as routine and demanded the United States apologize for its portrayal of the incident.
The increase in tension coincides with a Middle East tour by US President George W. Bush, who is seeking Arab support in reining in Iran and has repeated his assertion that the Islamic Republic was a “threat to world peace”.
Hosseini said Iran had acted with restraint over the incident but the United States sought to misuse it to paint the Islamic state in a negative light.
“We exercised restraint and we very calmly announced that this was a routine procedure but they tried to create a certain amount of commotion here,” Hosseini said.
“What we witnessed shows that some circles inside the United States are still pursuing its adventure-seeking policies,” Hosseini said.
“But their plans fell flat and we advise them not to pursue such policies of fooling the people in the region and now I think they have to apologize to the people of the region and also to the American nation,” he said.
Bush said during a stop in Israel Wednesday that Iran would face “serious consequences” if it attacked US ships.
Washington and Tehran have both released videos of the incident that they say back their version of events.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) dismissed Pentagon’s so-called documented footages claiming to show Iranian speedboats swarming US ships in the Strait of Hormuz last weekend, and described it as a “clumsy fabrication”.
“The pictures that the Pentagon broadcast of the naval incident are file pictures and voices have all been fabricated. The voices and pictures broadcast by the Pentagon about the latest incident have been fabricated so clumsily that the pictures and voices in the video are not even synchronized,” a senior IRGC commander told FNA.
“When trafficking in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman to protect the security of the region, all IRGC’s naval vessels carry the holy flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but in this fake film, Americans have left this primary and crucial point unheeded,” the source further added.
IRGC officials told FNA earlier that their naval forces merely identified the US vessels before both sides went on their way without any disturbance.
The Strait of Hormuz is a vital conduit for energy supplies, with about 20-25 percent of the world’s crude oil supplies passing through from Persian Gulf oil producers.
Iran has traditionally been responsible for protecting security of the Strait of Hormuz throughout the past centuries as a part of the strait is located inside Iranian borders.
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman also advised US President George Bush to reconsider his previous “wrong” policies regarding Iran before the end of his tenure.
“During the past seven years, the Bush administration has followed a policy to isolate Iran and promote Iranophobia in the region,” Hosseini said.
However, the Iranian official stressed “All regional states adopted a vigilant approach regarding that policy and opposed it.” Despite all US anti-Iran policies in the Persian Gulf region, “We are now witnessing progress in cooperation between Iran and regional countries,” Hosseini said noting that the regional states “attach no importance to US policies vis-Ã -vis Iran.”
He made the remarks commenting on President Bush’s visit to the region which according to Hosseini aimed at “fanning the fuel of Iranophobia among regional states and winning more support for the Zionist regime.”
He stressed that recent comments made by the US president in the Occupied Territories indicated that Washington was trying to intensify disputes among various Palestinian groups and promote disrespect for the votes of Palestinians and their elected government.