The United States has blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday that drove up oil prices and raised concerns about a new US-Iranian confrontation. However Tehran has bluntly denied the allegation.
“It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Thursday in Washington, noting that Iran had previously threatened to curtail oil transport in the Strait of Hormuz.
“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo however provided no evidence and took no questions regarding the allegation.
The Iranian mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Thursday evening that Iran “categorically rejects the U.S. unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents and condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”
On Thursday night, U.S. Central Command spokesman Bill Urban released a video of what the U.S. military said was an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp Gashti Class patrol boat approaching the Kokuka Courageous “and was observed and recorded removing (an) unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.”
Crude oil prices spiked more than 4% after the attacks near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial shipping artery for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf energy producers. Prices later settled about 2% higher. Brent crude was down by 0.4% at $61.06 a barrel in early Asia trading.