Sunday 23 June 2019 - 06:14

Malaysian PM blames US for rising tensions in Persian Gulf

Story Code : 801036
The file photo shows Malaysia
The file photo shows Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, May 30, 2019. (AFP)

Mahathir said in a Saturday interview that Washington’s decision more than a year ago to pull out of a landmark nuclear agreement with Tehran and its recent actions in the Persian Gulf had raised the chances for a large-scale war in the region.

“I think as far as I can see, it is America, which is making all the provocation,” Mahathir told CNBC , adding, “First, they withdrew from the (nuclear) treaty, and now they’re sending warships to the (Persian) Gulf, and doing things that will provoke Iran.”

The Malaysian premier made the remarks while attending a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Bangkok, Thailand.

The remarks came after reports emerged that US President Donald Trump had cancelled a series of military operations against Iran early on Friday hours after Iran downed an American unmanned aircraft which was flying above its southern territorial waters.

Officials in Tehran have condemned a series of sanctions imposed on the country since Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement.

They have indicated that going to war with the US over the issue would not be a default option although warning that they would not hesitate to defend the country’s sovereignty when facing a US aggression.

Mahathir said that if a war erupts between Iran and the United States, the repercussions will be devastating and energy prices will go up exponentially.

“If they go to war, it will not be Iran against America. It will be a world war,” he said, adding that other countries “will have to come in and put a stop to it.”

The 93-year-old Malaysian PM said US sanctions against Iran had negatively affected his own country while criticizing Washington’s bullying tactics to force sovereign nations to comply with its regime of embargoes.

“Actually the sanction is against Malaysia also ... because we can’t trade with a good trading partner that Iran provides for us,” he said.

“This kind of play of applying sanctions and forcing other countries to comply with the big power’s decision is totally undemocratic ... This is bullying,” Mahathir added.

He also bashed Trump for his “unpredictable” manners, saying the US president “can do a lot of damage to the whole world” if he stays in office for another four-year term after 2021.