US blames Iran for oil tanker attacks near the Strait of Hormuz

World Today

For the second time in a month, oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz have been the target of attacks.

Later that day, the U.S. Secretary of State blamed Iran for the incident but cited no proof. Iran denies involvement.

CGTN’S Jim Spellman reports.

Two tankers were allegedly attacked by torpedoes or mines in the Gulf of Oman. The crews were forced to abandon ship as the massive tankers burned.

One ship, owned by a Norwegian company, was transporting a petroleum product to Taiwan. The other, operated by a Japanese firm, was transporting chemicals from Saudi Arabia to Singapore.

Just before the incidents, both ships had transited the Strait of Hormuz, the strategically important shipping lane near Iran.

It’s not known for certain who is behind the attacks. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is blaming Iran.

“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,” Pompeo said.

The attacks happened as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran for talks, hoping to ease tensions between Iran and the U.S. Iran has denied responsibility for the attack.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted: Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks. Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.

The U.N. is calling for calm as tensions run high in the region.

“I strongly condemned any attack against civilian vessels. Facts must be established and responsibilities clarified and if there is something the world cannot afford, is a major confrontation in the Gulf Region,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Last month, four other tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz.

A UAE-led investigation found those attacks were part of a “sophisticated and coordinated operation,” most likely by a state actor but the report didn’t name what country may have been responsible.

Secretary of State Pompeo blames Iran for those attacks as well, but the U.S. has presented no concrete evidence.