Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that the US will continue to pressure Iran, reiterating his claims that the Islamic Republic carried out the attacks against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman “with a clear intent to deny transit through the strait”. In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, the US top diplomat insisted that “the intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence” and promised that “the world will come to see much of it”.
“We don't want war. We've done what we can to deter this. The Iranians should understand very clearly that we will continue to take actions that deter Iran from engaging in this kind of behaviour”, he said.
In a separate interview on CBS' "Face the Nation", the top US diplomat said that Washington "is considering a full range of options" when it comes to Iran.
"We have briefed the president a couple of times. We'll continue to keep him updated. We are confident that we can take a set of actions that can restore deterrence which is our mission set", Pompeo said, specifying that military action against Iran was "of course" under consideration following a question on the matter.
The interviews come the same day as Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Larijani took aim at Pompeo and his calls not to meet diplomacy with “terror, bloodshed, and extortion”, mocking the American top diplomat.
“Is it diplomacy to start a face-off with a revolutionary nation with acts of economic terrorism, [economic sanctions] which they themselves call the toughest ever. Is it diplomacy, Mr Pompeo, to renege on one’s promises in the nuclear agreement?” Larijani asked rhetorically, referring to the scrapped Iran nuclear deal.
The Iranian politician suggested that the recent attacks could be a US false-flag operation to frame Iran and put extra pressure on the Islamic Republic, Press TV reports.
“Suspicious acts in the Gulf of Oman against oil tankers… seem to be supplementary to the [US] economic sanctions as the Americans went nowhere with the sanctions, [also,] especially, given America’s historical record in the area [of false flag ops]”, Larijani said while talking at a parliamentary session.
The Panama-registered Kokuka Courageous oil tanker, operated by Japan’s Kokuka Sangyo Co, and Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair, owned by Norway's Frontline, were hit by blasts in the Gulf of Oman, near the strategic Strait of Hormuz on 13 June. The Japanese Trade Ministry said in a statement that both ships were carrying “Japan-related cargo”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has previously claimed that Tehran was behind the attacks, saying that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources to carry out such an operation, while the Pentagon has released a video that it claims shows an Iranian patrol boat removing a mine from the side of one of the tankers. CENTCOM, meanwhile, deployed a US Navy destroyer to the scene to "provide assistance".
The accusations were harshly slammed by Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who described Washington's moves as part of "sabotage diplomacy". At the same time, Kyodo news agency reported that the Japanese government does not share the US view of Iran’s involvement and appealed for additional evidence, considering the US statements to be insufficiently convincing.
The Gulf of Oman incident marked a new escalation in the confrontation between Iran and the US, which was initially prompted by President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and Washington’s campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran.