Bahrain’s foreign minister has condemned what he termed Tehran’s heightened interference and aggression in the Middle East, saying it’s essential the international community confront Iran’s behavior “with unrelenting pressure.”

Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani said on Tuesday that Iran’s aggression was a regional security challenge that needs to be confronted head-on. 

Iran today challenges regional security as aggressively as at any time in recent history.

Al-Zayani made the remarks during a virtual meeting for US-Bahrain Strategic Dialogue.

The minister said that Iran’s “malign intent and activities are more blatant than ever, from its military program to its ballistic missiles, from its interference in other states, to its increasingly overt involvement in conflicts.” 

Bahrain has long been at odds with Iran, frequently accusing Tehran of being behind uprisings among its Shia population.

In 2016, the Manama government severed diplomatic relations with Tehran, giving diplomats 48 hours to leave the country.

Al-Zayani claimed on Tuesday that it was now “essential” to apply “unrelenting pressure” on Iran in order to convince its leaders to change course, adding that US partnership is integral to the process of pressurizing Iran. 

Iran vehemently objects to the myriad sanctions placed on it by Western governments and, despite international objections, has pursued a nuclear program which it insists is purely peaceful.

Bahrain’s recent decision to re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel has also drawn the ire of Tehran.

Last Friday, Iran’s top nuclear scientist was assassinated, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani firmly pointing the finger at Israel. 

US President Donald Trump has pushed ahead with a “maximum pressure campaign” on Tehran following the US’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, despite the UN’s nuclear watchdog saying Tehran had been adhering to the agreement.

Reports emerged earlier in November that Trump had considered options for attacking Iranian nuclear sites, in a desperate attempt to bring it to the negotiating table. Tehran warned that any military action against Iran would elicit a “crushing” response.

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