White House Points Finger at Iran for Tanker Attacks

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the State Department on Thursday, saying Iran is believed to be responsible for attacks on two tankers near the Persian Gulf. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Tensions between the U.S. and Iran ratcheted up again Thursday when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tehran was behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, just outside of Iranian waters.

Pompeo said the attack was in response to the Trump administration’s recent economic sanctions on Iran.

He cited recent similar attacks as evidence that Iran was responsible, as well as the type of weapon and level of expertise necessary to carry out the operation. Limpet mines – designed to stick to a ship’s hull with magnets – were used to attack oil tankers and to bomb an oil pipeline in May, according to Pompeo.

“No proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.” Pompeo added.

He added that Iran was carrying out threats made in April.

“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,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo framed the offense as in line with Iran’s “unprovoked aggression of freedom loving nations” that the secretary said goes back 40 years to the creation of the Islamic republic.

He said the Iranian foreign minister responded “sardonically” to questions from U.S. officials on the maritime attack.

The secretary took no questions following his announcement, providing no details on how the U.S. would respond to the attacks.

“Taken as a whole these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Pompeo said.

Iran’s United Nations mission said it “categorically rejects” Pompeo’s assertions and called on the international community to prevent “the reckless and dangerous policies and practices of the U.S. and its regional allies in heightening the tensions in the region.”

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