Mideast tanker attacks jolt oil-dependent Asia

The Japan Times

While the violence only directly jolted two countries in the region -- one of the targeted ships was operated by a Tokyo-based company, and a nearby South Korean-operated vessel helped rescue sailors -- it will unnerve major economies throughout Asia. Officials, analysts and media commentators on Friday hammered home the importance of the Strait of Hormuz for Asia, calling it a crucial lifeline, and there was deep interest in more details about the still-sketchy attack and what the United States and Iran would do in the aftermath. In the end, whether Asia shrugs it off, as some analysts predict, or its economies shudder as a result, the attack highlights the widespread worries over an extreme reliance on a single strip of water for the oil that fuels much of the region's shared progress. Japan, South Korea and China don't have enough of it; the Middle East does, and much of it flows through the narrow Strait of Hormuz. This could make Asia vulnerable to supply disruptions from U.S.-Iran tensions or violence in the strait.

Iranian foreign minister likely to visit in late August to discuss situation in strategic Strait of Hormuz

The Japan Times

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is likely to visit Japan this month for talks on the situation in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, it was learned Sunday from diplomatic sources. Tehran and Tokyo have been making final arrangements for Zarif to visit in the later part of this month for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono, according to the sources. He last visited Japan in May. The Iranian side is expected to communicate its stance opposing a U.S.-led coalition to protect shipping in the strait from Iranian military forces. The coalition plan, called the Maritime Security Initiative, is being considered in the wake of attacks on two oil tankers -- one of them operated by a Japanese shipping firm -- near the Strait of Hormuz in June.

Iran foreign minister says country 'had no choice' but to build missiles for defense

FOX News

Javad Zarif indicates that Iran will continue to manufacture missiles for defense purposes; Trey Yingst reports from Jerusalem. Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday that his country must manufacture missiles for defensive purposes, days after he appeared to suggest the weapons could be up for negotiations. In a tweet Wednesday, Javad Zarif said that Iran's missile program grew out of the 1980-1988 war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. "For 8 YEARS, Saddam showered our cities with missiles & bombs provided by East & West," Zarif wrote. "Meanwhile, NO ONE sold Iran any means of defense.

Stern words from Iran: U.S. cannot 'expect to stay safe'

The Japan Times

TEHRAN - Iran's foreign minister warned the U.S. on Monday that it "cannot expect to stay safe" after launching what he described as an economic war against Tehran, taking a hard-line stance amid a visit by Germany's top diplomat seeking to defuse tensions. A stern-faced Mohammad Javad Zarif offered a series of threats over the ongoing tensions gripping the Persian Gulf. The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump's decision over a year ago to withdraw America from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Trump also reinstated tough sanctions on Iran, targeting its oil sector. Trump himself has announced that the U.S. has launched an economic war against Iran," Zarif said.

Iran gears up for high-stakes diplomacy amid tension with U.S.

The Japan Times

ABU DHABI - As its nuclear deal with world powers unravels amid heightened tensions with the U.S., Iran will see a week of high-stakes diplomacy capped by the first visit of a Japanese prime minister to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Shinzo Abe will arrive on Wednesday in Iran after earlier meeting with President Donald Trump, whose maximalist approach toward the Islamic Republic has seen America re-impose sanctions once lifted by the 2015 accord and create far-reaching newer ones. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also will visit Tehran as well this week. What Abe will be able to accomplish remains unclear, as Iran already has warned Europe it will begin enrichment of uranium closer to weapons-grade levels by July 7 if it doesn't come up with new terms to the deal. It also comes as Japan tries to negotiate its own trade deals with Trump, who has been quick to impose tariffs on other nations.