State Secretary Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack on two Japanese oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. He claimed that Iran wants to end “successful maximum pressure campaign” of the US sanctions.
“This is only the latest in the series of attacks instigated by the Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American allies and interests. They should be understood in the context of four years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations,” he said.
It is the assessment of the U.S. government that Iran is responsible for today's attacks in the Gulf of Oman. These attacks are a threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable escalation of tension by Iran. pic.twitter.com/cbLrWNU5S0
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 13, 2019
Earlier on the same day, Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair and Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous were rocked by explosions in the Gulf of Oman.
There are no confirmed details regarding what actually happened, but one of the vessels was reportedly hit by a torpedo. Iran said it had rescued 44 sailors from the distressed tankers and called the incident “suspicious.”
The US Navy provided a contrary claim saying that its forces were involved in the rescue operation, not Iranian ones.
“U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m.
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command received the calls from the M/V Front Altair and M/V Kokuka Courageous, who were operating in international waters of the Gulf of Oman.
USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) was operating in the vicinity and provided immediate assistance to the M/V Kokuka Courageous.
Twenty-one mariners from the M/V Kokuka Courageous, who abandoned ship, are currently aboard USS Bainbridge. A Navy P-8 is also providing support,” CENTCOM said.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif labeled the incident as “suspicious” hinting that this may have been a provocation.
Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.
Iran's proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 13, 2019