Calling Iran “a nation of terror”, President Donald Trump on Friday publicly accused the Persian Gulf nation of responsibility for recent attacks on oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Trump said Irans culpability was “exposed” by the United States. While calling into Fox News Channels “Fox & Friends,” he said of the Thursday attacks, “Iran did do it.” While Iran has denied being involved in the attacks, US Central Command released footage it said shows Irans Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous.
Trump didn’t offer any potential US response to the attack, saying the US has been “very tough on sanctions.” He added: “They’ve been told in very strong terms we want to get them back to the table.”
The tanker attacks coincided with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abes visit to Iran. Abe, a Trump ally, had taken a similar message encouraging a return to negotiations on his visit to Tehran.
US officials said on Thursday that the Trump administration was considering a return to providing naval escorts to vessels transiting through the maritime choke point. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a prominent ally of the Republican president, called on the US to begin the escorts immediately in an interview with “Fox & Friends” earlier on Friday.
Trump warned Iran not to close off the Strait of Hormuz, saying if it is closed it wont be closed for long.
Russia warns against hasty conclusions over tanker attacks
Russia warned on Friday against jumping to conclusions over the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman after US President Donald Trump blamed them on Iran.
“We consider it necessary to refrain from hasty conclusions,” the Russian foreign ministry said, calling for a thorough international investigation. “We strongly condemn the attacks no matter who is behind them,” the ministry said in a statement.
“We are concerned by tensions in the Gulf of Oman,” it said, calling on all parties to show restraint. Two vessels were struck by explosions on Thursday after passing through the Strait of Hormuz some 25 nautical miles off Irans southern coast, the second attack in a month in the strategic shipping lane.
Moscow also thanked Iran for help in rescuing 11 Russian crew members from one of the vessels, the Front Altair. Washington has blamed the attacks on Iran, with Trump saying the incident had Iran “written all over it.” The latest incident raised new fears of conflict in the strategically vital waterway. Iran has denied involvement.