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'Never again': Zarif calls US group coup attempt bound to fail

On anniversary of US-led 1953 putsch, foreign minister says Washington 'action group' won't topple government in Tehran.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, has said any US effort to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran was bound to fail, just days after Washington announced the creation of a group to coordinate and run the country's policy towards Tehran.  

Zarif made the comments in a Twitter post on Sunday, on the anniversary of a US-backed coup that toppled Iran's first democratically elected government in 1953.

"65 years ago today, the US overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Dr. Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship and subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years," Zarif said. 

"Now an 'Action Group' dreams of doing the same through pressure, misinformation & demagoguery.

"Never again."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday announced the creation of the Iran Action Group (IAG), whose stated goal is to "change the Iranian regime's behaviour".

"The IAG will ensure that the Department of State will remain closely synchronised with our interagency partners," Pompeo said, adding that the group "will also lead the way in growing efforts with nations which share our understanding of the Iranian threat".

The US' decision to back Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh's overthrow 65 years ago in concert with the United Kingdom has cast a lasting shadow over relations between Washington and Tehran.

In May 1953, about three months before his overthrow, Mossadegh ordered a government takeover of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now British Petroleum (BP), after contending that an earlier oil exploration deal was not favourable for the Iranian people.

The move angered the UK government, which sought the help of the US to carry out a plan to force Mossadegh out of office with the tacit approval of the Iranian monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. 

After his overthrow, Mossadegh was imprisoned for three years on charges of treason. He died in 1967 under house arrest upon the order of the shah.

Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since the shah's fall in 1979.

In March 2000, then-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the first senior American official to acknowledge the American role in the coup, calling it "a setback for Iran's political development".

Decades of hostility eased somewhat with the 2015 nuclear deal signed by six world powers, including the US, and Iran.

But high tensions resumed after US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the deal in May, calling it flawed in Iran's favour, and reimposed sanctions.

Ali Larijani, Iran's speaker of parliament, said on Sunday the 1953 coup was an indication that the US cannot be trusted.

"How dare you talk about the freedom of the Iranian nation with your dark record of the August 19 coup and the appointment of a totalitarian regime," Larijani was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

"Americans are imposing sanctions they claim they are supporting freedom, human rights, and global and regional security."

Tehran has accused the Trump administration of pushing for "regime change" in Iran, deepening distrust. The US has denied the allegations, despite its ties to the Iranian exile group, the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK). 


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