June 13, 2019 U.S. officials say Iran is to blame for Thursday morning’s attack on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo provided no evidence or specifics on the attack. The assessment was based in part on intelligence and the expertise needed for the operation. It was also based on previous incidents also blamed on Iran, including the use of limpet mines to attack four oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port of Fujairah and the bombing of an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia by Iranian-backed fighters in May, he said.
“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.
Last month, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the United States was deploying an aircraft carrier, bomber planes, and anti-missile batteries to the Persian Gulf in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” of threats from Iran.
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.