U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is blaming Iran for Thursday's attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, off the Iranian coast.
One of the tankers was set on fire and sent up smoke thick and black enough to be seen by satellites in space.
Pompeo said the U.S. based its determination that Iran was behind the attacks on intelligence, the weapons used, and what he called the "level of expertise" needed to carry out such an operation.
The secretary noted that Iran was behind other recent similar attacks on shipping and that no proxy group in the region has the resources and ability to attack a tanker with such a "high degree of sophistication."
One of the tankers is Norwegian-owned and the other is owned by a Japanese company.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the timing of the latest apparent attacks was "beyond suspicious" because Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini. Their talks focused on ways to de-escalate tensions between Washington and Tehran.
But Pompeo said the Iranian government "insulted" Japan by striking one of its tankers while Abe was in the country.
A U.S. defense official, speaking to VOA on condition of anonymity, said the military has "a lot of indications" Iran attacked the ships.
The official would not elaborate on what the evidence entailed. This was the latest of many attacks in the region that the U.S. has accused Tehran of carrying out, but it has yet to declassify any incriminating evidence.
Both ships were struck at dawn Thursday by what U.S. military officials believe were mines.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that while he appreciates Abe's efforts to calm tensions with Iran, "it is too soon to even think about making a deal. They are not ready, and neither are we!"
Source : VOA