ANKARA   -   While Iran doesn’t want to escalate tensions further with Washington, it won’t allow the US to threaten the security of the Persian Gulf, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Thursday.

“Aggravating the situation between Tehran and Washington isn’t in Iran’s interest,” Zarif told Qatar’s Al Jazeera television channel on Thursday. “But we want to keep the Persian Gulf safe and open to everyone, including Iran,” he said.

“As we have stated before, Iran won’t permit the U.S. to threaten the Gulf,” the foreign minister added. He also reiterated accusations that a handful of world leaders -- from the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- were actively promoting conflict between the US and Iran.

Those leaders, which Zarif has previously described as the “B-Team”, include U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Recent days have seen tensions mount between Washington and Tehran, with the latter threatening to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz in response to the recent reactivation of U.S. sanctions on Iran’s energy sector.