June 14, 2019 The war of words continues between the United States and Iranian governments after an attack on two oil tankers Thursday near the Strait of Hormuz. Iran said the U.S. is waging a ‘Iranophobic Campaign.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack on Thursday without providing any evidence or details, citing intelligence and several similar attacks also blamed on Iran. Iran categorically denied any involvement in the attack. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, accused the Trump administration of “sabotage diplomacy.”
The U.S. military released a video Friday purportedly showing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted, suggesting Tehran wanted to hide evidence of its alleged involvement.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran, trying to negotiate between the United States and Iran, when news broke that a Japanese-owned ship was among the two targets. The Japanese owner of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers targeted said sailors on board saw “flying objects” just before it was hit, suggesting the vessel wasn’t damaged by mines.
President Trump called Iran a “nation of terror, downplaying global concerns that Iran might close off the Strait of Hormuz. During a telephone interview on Friday morning, Trump told Fox News if it happens “it’s not going to be closed for long.”
U.S. — Iran Tensions
Tensions have continued to rise since President Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, restoring American sanctions that have pushed Iran’s economy into crisis. In May, Iran warned it would begin enriching uranium at higher levels in 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the deal.
STRAIT OF HORMUZ
The Strait of Hormuz separates Iran to the north and the Musandam Governorate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the south. It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and the world’s most strategically important maritime choke point and a main artery for the transport of oil from the Middle East. Approximately 22.5 million barrels of oil a day passed through the Strait of Hormuz on average since the start of 2018, according to Vortexa, an energy analytics firm. That’s roughly 24% of daily global oil production, and nearly 30% of oil moving over the world’s oceans.
One year after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on American soil, the United States began moving significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter Iran from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz. Since then, the Iranian government has threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz several times but has yet to follow through.