After the tanker was attacked, Iranian military fast-boats prevented privately owned tug boats from salvaging one of the damaged vessels, two US officials aware of the situation told CNBC.
America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, blamed Iran for Thursday’s attacks without citing specific evidence showing Tehran was responsible.
“Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted,” Pompeo said Thursday. “No economic sanctions entitle the Islamic Republic to attack innocent civilians, disrupt global oil markets and engage in nuclear blackmail.”
In an exclusive interview with CNBC on Friday, Trump’s energy secretary called Iran the “bad neighbor in the neighborhood.”
“Iran should be thinking about how do we maintain our market share, how do we act like good neighbors, how do we continue to be a part of the global community instead of these obvious acts of treachery in the Strait of Hormuz,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said.
Meanwhile, the Japanese owner of one of the oil tankers said the vessel was damaged by a projectile, not by a mine, which is what US officials assessed as the source of the blast.
“We received reports that something flew towards the ship,” Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo, said at a press conference Friday. “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship,” he said, adding that a projectile landed above the waterline.
There has been no official comment from the Pentagon on the reports that the Iranian vessels were defending the tankers and that the tankers were damaged by a projectile rather than a mine.