US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday once again blamed Iran for last week’s attacks on oil tankers and vowed that the United States “will guarantee free passage” through the vital Strait of Hormuz.
“What you should assume is we are going to guarantee freedom of navigation throughout the strait,” he said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
A third of the world’s seaborne oil supply passes through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel bordered to the north by Iran that links the Gulf with the Gulf of Oman.
“This is an international challenge, important to the entire globe. The United States is going to make sure that we take all the actions necessary, diplomatic and otherwise, that achieve that outcome,” Pompeo said.
He would not lay out US evidence for Iran’s involvement in the Gulf of Oman explosions, but insisted: “It’s unmistakable what happened here.
“These were attacks by the Islamic Republic of Iran on commercial shipping, on the freedom of navigation, with the clear intent to deny transit through the strait.”
On Thursday, two oil tankers – one sailing under a Panama flag and owned by Japan and another bearing the Marshall Islands’ ensign owned by Norwegian Frontline – were hit by yet unspecified accidents in the Sea of Oman. Iranian rescuers rushed to the assistance, transferring all of their 44 crew members to Iran’s southern shores.
Pompeo claimed that Iran had attacked the vessels, yet has not provided any substantial evidence to support its claims.
Tehran firmly rejected US accusations as baseless, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accusing Washington of adopting “sabotage diplomacy” against the Islamic Republic.