Tuesday 16 July 2019

US blames Iran for attacks on Oman Gulf tankers

  • Explosion leaves one vessel ablaze at sea, crew safe
  • Japanese owners of second ship say vessel hit twice
  • U.S. Navy says responded to distress calls
  • Oil prices surge 4pc on Gulf of Oman incident
  • Iran calls incidents 'suspicious', urges dialogue
An oil tanker is seen after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019. ISNA/Handout via Reuters
An oil tanker is seen after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019. ISNA/Handout via Reuters
In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. (IRIB News Agency via AP)
REFILE - ADDING RESTRICTIONS A picture of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two that were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman, is displayed during a news conference by the ship owner Kokuka Sangyo Ltd. at the company office in Tokyo, Japan June 13, 2019, in in this photo released by Kyodo. Kyodo/via REUTERS
In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. (IRIB News Agency via AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States government blames Iran for attacks on two oil tankers near the Persian Gulf.

A US assessment of Iran's responsibility, which forced the evacuation of the crews in international waters, was based in part on intelligence as well as the expertise needed to carry out the operation, Mr Pompeo told reporters in Washington.

It was also based on a recent series of incidents in the region that the US also blames on Iran, including a similar attack on tankers in the area in May and the bombing of an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia by Iranian-backed fighters, he said.

"Taken as a whole these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran," Mr Pompeo said.

REFILE - ADDING RESTRICTIONS A picture of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two that were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman, is displayed during a news conference by the ship owner Kokuka Sangyo Ltd. at the company office in Tokyo, Japan June 13, 2019, in in this photo released by Kyodo. Kyodo/via REUTERS
REFILE - ADDING RESTRICTIONS A picture of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two that were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman, is displayed during a news conference by the ship owner Kokuka Sangyo Ltd. at the company office in Tokyo, Japan June 13, 2019, in in this photo released by Kyodo. Kyodo/via REUTERS

The US planned to raise the attacks at the UN Security Council later on Thursday.

Mr Pompeo also said the US would defend its forces and interests in the Middle East, but gave no details on any immediate plans.

Mr Pompeo did not take questions after giving the brief statement.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have been growing since President Donald Trump last year withdrew from an international agreement aimed at restricting Iran's nuclear programme and reinstated economic sanctions that have had a devastating effect on the Iranian economy.

In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. (IRIB News Agency via AP)
In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. (IRIB News Agency via AP)

In May, the US rushed an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the Persian Gulf region in response to what it said were threats from Iran.

Mr Pompeo said Iran had attempted the covert deployment of small boats capable of launching missiles, in an apparent description of the threat that prompted the deployment.

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