Pompeo blames Iran for attack on tankers in Gulf

Pompeo blames Iran for attack on tankers in Gulf

In May, the US rushed an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the region in response to what it said were threats from Iran. Qatar also called on all parties to show restraint and stop escalation, while calling for an global investigation into the attacks.

Global oil prices gained around 4% immediately after the reports of the attack.

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah described the attacks as a threat to worldwide peace and security. "Who else would you think is doing it?"

Speaking to reporters for four minutes and taking no questions, Pompeo offered no evidence of Iran's involvement in the explosions aboard two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.

Two Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged in mid-May, a day before Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched drone attacks against a Saudi oil pipeline.

It is the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.

Like in Fujairah, dozens of ships ranging from massive oil tankers to smaller pleasure boats, traditional dhows and cargo vessels ply the waters of the strait and the Gulf of Oman.

The US and worldwide benchmarks for crude oil were up about 3 per cent on Thursday.

New York's West Texas Intermediate was up $1.60 or around 3.1 per cent at $52.74 per barrel.

The area is near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway through which almost one-third of all oil traded by sea passes. "If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk", said Paolo d'Amico, chairman of INTERTANKO tanker association.

Meanwhile, in Tokyo, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, a top government spokesman, told reporters that Abe's trip was meant to help de-escalate Mideast tensions - not specifically mediate between Tehran and Washington. He delivered a note from Trump to Khamenei, but the Ayatollah rebuffed the overture and said he could not expect honest negotiation from the US administration. "I don't regard Trump as deserving any exchange of messages", Khamenei reportedly told Abe. Iran denied threatening US personnel, in turn accusing the USA of ratcheting up tension with its military deployments.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the incidents as "suspicious" on Twitter, noting that they occurred during Abe's visit to Tehran.

A government spokesman, Ali Rabiei, warned other nations not to be deceived by those who benefit from instability, Iran's Labour News Agency reported. "Genuineness is very rare among USA officials", Khamenei added in a series of tweets Thursday.

US analysts were poring over imagery as well as signals intercepts Thursday to help determine how the attack happened and who was responsible, a senior USA official said.

The fact that both vessels remained afloat suggested mines may have damaged them, Larsen said. But they follow similar incidents in the region seemingly targeted to send a message to USA allies.

On 12 May, four oil tankers - two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati - were damaged in still unexplained attacks in the Gulf of Oman off the United Arab Emirates. CPC Corp., the Taiwan oil company that had chartered the ship to carry naphtha, a petroleum product, confirmed that it had been attacked. There were no injuries among the crew members.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks about Iran at the State Department on June 13, 2019. It was reportedly headed from the Saudi port of Al Jubail to Singapore. Its crew of 23 - from Russian Federation, the Philippines and Georgia - was safely evacuated to the nearby Hyundai Dubai vessel, it said.

Donald Trump, who has made economic and military pressure against Iran a cornerstone of his foreign policy, was being briefed Thursday about the tanker attack. "So crew members left the ship by lifeboats". "Kokuka Courageous is adrift without any crew on board", the source said. "The cargo of methanol is intact".

Iranian state television said 44 sailors from the two tankers were transferred to an Iranian port in the southern province of Hormozgan.

"As the ship caught fire, 23 of the crew jumped into the water and were saved by a passing ship and handed over to the Iranian rescue unit", it said.

It was also based on a recent series of incidents in the region that the USA 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.

"U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command received the calls from the M/V Front Altair and M/V Kokuka Courageous, who were operating in worldwide waters of the Gulf of Oman".

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