October 15, 2019

Pompeo Blames Iran for Gulf of Oman Attack

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies to the initial hearing of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the June 13 attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman Thursday.

According to Reuters, it is believed that a torpedo struck the Norwegian Front Altair tanker is believed to have been attacked with a torpedo; a magnetic mine may have cause the attack on the other tanker, the Japanese Kokuka Courageous. Both tankers were sailing through the Strait of Hormuz.

There have been no reported casualties at this time.

Pompeo said in a press conference that Iran was responsible for the attacks “based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.” He added that Iran is following through on its April 22 declaration to disrupt oil trade in the Strait of Hormuz as a way to lash out against the United States’ “maximum pressure campaign” to force Iran into ceasing its aggression in the Middle East.

“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,” Pompeo said.

The attacks come as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to meet with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Thursday. Iran has denied involvement in the matter and claimed that they rescued 44 sailors from the attacks; the U.S. has called Iran’s claim “patently false.”

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been escalating of late, as in May the U.S. deployed myriad warships and bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to an unspecified threat from Iran against U.S. interests in the Middle East. President Donald Trump tweeted at the time, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”