On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid the blame for the attacks on two oil tankers near the Persian Gulf squarely on the government of Iran.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department, Pompeo stated:
It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today. This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to executive 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.
At a news conference later, Pompeo added, “Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security.”
Pompeo stated, “On April 22nd, Iran promised the world it would interrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. It is now working to execute on that promise.” He revealed that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen would bring up the issue at the Security Council on Thursday.
CBS News noted, “Benchmark Brent crude spiked at one point by as much 4% in trading after the reported attack to over $62 a barrel, highlighting how crucial the Strait of Hormuz is to global energy supplies. A third of all oil traded by sea passes through the strait, which is the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.”
The Front Altair, carrying petrochemical feedstock, was on fire in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran after an explosion that a source blamed on a magnetic mine. The Norwegian owner said its crew were safe. A second Japanese-owned tanker was abandoned after being hit by a suspected torpedo, the firm that chartered the ship said. The crew were also picked up.
The Front Altair is Norwegian-owned; the Kokuka Courageous is the Japanese-owned tanker that was attacked. The Daily Mail reported, “Warning that the Gulf’s waters are ‘becoming unsafe’, tanker industry chief Paolo d’Amico said that ‘the oil supply to the entire Western world could be at risk’ — as 30 per cent of the world’s crude oil passes through the area.”
The Daily Mail noted, “The USS Bainbridge, which had been deployed to the area to offer assistance, reported that crew members saw an unexploded limpet mine on the side of one of the attacked ships. Magnetic limpet mines are suspected of being used in the May 12 attacks on four tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.”
In May, after the four tankers were hit near the Strait of Hormuz, Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton said Iran was responsible.
The New York Times reported on Thursday:
A United States Navy P-8 surveillance plane flying over the stricken tankers on Thursday spotted an unexploded mine attached to the hull of the Kokuka Courageous, one of the damaged ships, a Defense Department official said. The so-called limpet mine resembled the kind of explosive that investigators believe was used against the four ships in the attacks last month, the official said.