Following the suspected attack on two oil tankers in the gulf of oman, tensions between the u.S. And iran are growing threateningly. US secretary of state mike pompeo on thursday accused iran of being behind the attacks.
"It is the assessment of the u.S. Government that the islamic republic of iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred today in the gulf of oman," pompeo said in washington. It was an "unacceptable escalation of tension by iran.". Pompeo said the U.S. Assessment was based on intelligence, weapons used and similar attacks in the recent past, among other factors.
A freighter managed by a german company and a ship owned by a norwegian shipping company were affected on thursday. Both tankers were damaged, the crews were taken to safety.
The strait in question, the strait of hormuz, is one of the most important sea straits of all, connecting the oil-rich gulf region with the open sea. A large part of the world’s oil transport by ship passes through them. The price of crude oil rose sharply.
Pompeo said iran was concerned with forcing the lifting of U.S. Sanctions. His government, however, continued to rely on economic and diplomatic efforts "to bring iran back to the negotiating table at the right time.". The united states would at the same time protect its troops and interests and stand by its allies.
At the request of the u.S., the united nations security council was scheduled to consider the incidents on thursday afternoon (local time). UN secretary general antonio guterres warned against escalation. "I note the incident in the strait of hormus with deep concern. I strongly condemn any attack on civilian ships," said guterres. "And if there’s one thing the world can’t afford, it’s a rough confrontation in the gulf region."It must be determined who is responsible for the incidents".
The norwegian maritime authority confirmed an attack on the oil tanker "front altair", the norwegian company frontline reported an explosion and a fire on board. The german bernhard schulte shipmanagement (BSM) reported that the tanker "kokuka courageous", loaded with methanol, was also damaged and one crew member was slightly injured.
Just four weeks ago, the united arab emirates (uae) reported acts of sabotage against four merchant ships in the same region. According to saudi sources, two of the country’s tankers were heavily damaged at the time. The exact circumstances, however, remained unclear. U.S. National security adviser john bolton later spoke of attacks with marines for which iran was "almost certainly" responsible. He did not provide evidence for his accusation. The government in tehran rejected the accusation and spoke of "ridiculous claims".
Tensions between the u.S. And iran have been rising for months. The u.S. Military recently moved an aircraft carrier group and a remote bomber squadron to the region, among other things, raising concerns of a military conflict. During thursday’s incident, japanese prime minister shinzo abe was in tehran to mediate in the escalating conflict between the u.S. And iran.
Both U.S. President donald trump and the supreme leader of the islamic republic, ayatollah ali khamenei, declined to negotiate. Trump wrote on twitter that he appreciated abe’s efforts. But he thinks "it’s too early to even think about making a deal.". Referring to the iranians, trump added: "they are not ready, and neither are we."
Khamenei categorically ruled out negotiations with the U.S. In nuclear dispute. "Iran does not trust the u.S.," he said at a meeting with abe in tehran. "We have already had the bitter experience with the americans on the nuclear agreement and we don’t want to repeat that experience." trump had unilaterally terminated the nuclear agreement with iran last year. After that, tough US economic sanctions against iran came into force again.
After the alleged attack on the ships in the gulf of oman, a spokesman for the iranian fleet said expert teams were deployed with helicopters over the sea area to investigate the traps.
For weeks now, tensions have been growing in the region between sunni saudi arabia and its allies on the one hand and shiite iran on the other. The riyadh royal family accuses the tehran leadership of interfering in the internal affairs of arab states and destabilizing the region.
Saudi arabia has now also condemned the alleged attacks on the tankers as "terrorist operations," as energy minister chalid al-falih put it, according to state news agency SPA. The country will take measures to protect its ports.
The iranian auben ministry expressed concern and spoke of "dubious" incidents. The timing in particular is very suspicious, said aub office spokesman abbas mussawi, referring to abe’s visit to tehran.
Federal minister heiko maas called the alleged attacks extremely disturbing. Attacks on merchant ships pose a threat not only to open trade routes. "In the current situation, they are also a threat to peace."
EU warned against hasty reaction. "The region doesn’t need any more elements of destabilization and any more tensions," said the spokeswoman for the EU’s envoy on foreign affairs, federica mogherini, in brussel.
The norwegian maritime authority increased its security level for the affected area. According to this information, the incident occurred about 70 nautical miles from the arab emirate of fujairah and about 14 nautical miles off the iranian coast. The arab sultanate of oman is another littoral state in the strait.
The USA, together with its allies saudi arabia and the UAE, had massively increased the pressure on iran in the past weeks. The royal family in riyadh accuses iran, among other things, of supporting the huthi rebels in the yemen war. The latter had repeatedly attacked saudi arabia with drones in recent weeks.