Iran, Middle East
The Secretary of State categorically blamed Iran for a Gulf of Oman oil tanker attack; others remain circumspect.
Pompeo Presents Dire Assessment of Iran Situation
WASHINGTON— After weeks of pullback from an otherwise hawkish pose toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Trump administration seemingly reverted Thursday, instigated by two oil tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman likely carried out by Iranian forces.
Recent Iranian maneuvers represent a “clear threat to international security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at State headquarters in Foggy Bottom. The British government, which has straddled a difficult line on Iran during the Trump era, agreed with the American assessment Friday, giving Washington cover.
Details remained murky, however. Skeptics, led by the Associated Press, poked holes. “It is a fact that only the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.] Navy has the ability to place mines like these,” Sen. Marco Rubio said. The AP reports that the owner of the struck vessel, the Kokuka Courageous, saw “flying objects” before the attack, undermining the mine thesis.
United States Central Command, while claiming video proves Iranian responsibility, issued a statement condemning any talk of war: “We have no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. We will defend our interests, but a war with Iran is not in our strategic interest.”