WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking Thursday afternoon, laid the blame squarely on Iran for the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier that day.
“It is the assessment of the US government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible” for those attacks, Pompeo stated.
“This assessment is 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 said.
Paul Davis, a former Pentagon analyst and a Senior Fellow at Soran University, hailed the quick and decisive response of the Trump administration.
“There is no other reasonable explanation for the attacks,” Davis said. “They are not doing the Clinton administration thing of hemming and hawing and not knowing who was responsible,” he told Kurdistan 24. “Nor are they doing the Obama administration thing of trying to conciliate Iran.”
Despite the Iranian assaults, Pompeo refrained from issuing any military threats, as he affirmed that the US would continue its diplomatic and economic efforts to bring Tehran into negotiations.
Pompeo noted that in late April, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz through which one-third of the world’s sea-borne oil traffic passes daily. That threat has been followed by a series of Iranian assaults.
Those assaults occurred over the course of the past month and a half, but apparently, Wednesday’s attack on the two oil tankers has prompted the administration to highlight the earlier assaults, as they now appear to be part of a pattern of ongoing, aggressive behavior.
They include an attempt by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in early May to covertly deploy “modified dhows capable of launching missiles,” Pompeo explained.
“On May 12, Iran attacked four commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz,” Pompeo added. Two days later, “Iran-backed surrogates” in Yemen used armed drones to attack “two strategically important oil pipelines in Saudi Arabia.”
“On May 19, a rocket landed near the US embassy in Baghdad,” he stated, and “yesterday, Iranian surrogates” in Yemen “fired a missile into Saudi Arabia, striking an arrival terminal at an international airport, injuring 26 people.”
Pompeo also noted that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on an “historic trip” to Iran in an effort to deescalate tensions and persuade Tehran to “enter into talks.”
However, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejected Abe’s effort, saying flatly that he would not respond to US President Donald Trump.
Tehran then “insulted Japan by attacking a Japanese oil tanker just outside Iranian waters,” Pompeo said, “threatening the lives of the entire crew.”
Pompeo attributed the Iranian assaults to the success of US sanctions, saying that Tehran was “lashing out.” Nonetheless, Washington remains committed to “an economic and diplomatic effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table” for “a comprehensive deal” that would address “the broad range of threats” that Iran poses.
The US will, therefore, raise Iran’s responsibility for the tanker attacks at the Security Council, Pompeo said, even as he affirmed, “The United States will defend its forces, interests, and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability.”