Iran 'responsible' for attacks on oil tankers in Gulf of Oman: USPTI | Washington DC | Updated: 14-06-2019 08:11 IST | Created: 14-06-2019 08:09 IST
The United States has blamed Iran for the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday as the incident appeared to have escalated the ongoing tension with the Iranian regime. The latest incident came amid spiralling tensions between Tehran and Washington which has pointed the finger at Iran over earlier tanker attacks in May.
"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," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department Thursday. He said the 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.
"This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests, and they should be understood in the context of 40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations," he said. Stating that Iran should meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not with terror, bloodshed, and extortion, Pompeo asserted that the US will defend its forces, interests, and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability. He called upon all nations threatened by Iran's provocative acts to join the US in that endeavour.
Pompeo said that he has instructed US Ambassador to the UN Jonathan Cohen to raise Iran's attacks in the UN Security Council meeting. "Our policy remains an economic and diplomatic effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table at the right time, to encourage a comprehensive deal that addresses the broad range of threats – threats today apparent for all the world to see – to peace and security," he said.
Later in a tweet, President Donald Trump said Iran is not ready for a deal right now. "While I very much appreciate P.M. Abe going to Iran to meet with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, I personally feel that it is too soon to even think about making a deal. They are not ready, and neither are we!" he tweeted.
According to US Central Command spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Earl Brown, as many as 21 mariners from the M/V Kokuka Courageous, who abandoned ship, were rescued and are currently aboard USS Bainbridge. USS Bainbridge remains in close contact with the M/V Kokuka Courageous and is the on-scene U.S. command authority. "No interference with USS Bainbridge, or its mission, will be tolerated," he said.
The US and its partners in the region will take all necessary measures to defend themselves and their interests. "Today's attacks are a clear threat to international freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce," Brown said. He said the US and its regional partners are assisting in the response to the threat to maritime shipping and international commerce in the Gulf of Oman.
"The US and the international community, stand ready to defend our interests, including freedom of navigation," he said adding that the US has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. The attacks are a threat to maritime shipping and international commerce, he said. "We will defend our interests, but a war with Iran is not in our strategic interest, nor in the best interest of the international community," Brown said.