On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Iran was responsible for attacks on two tankers that were traveling Strait of Hormuz. He seems convinced of this despite a lack of evidence, as there is no new evidence to bring forward other than a video released by the Pentagon last week. According to Pompeo, “The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence. The world will come to see much of it, but the American people should rest assured we have high confidence with respect to who conducted these attacks as well as half a dozen other attacks throughout the world.”
Meanwhile, both Saudi Arabia had the UK have supported the claim of Iran’s involvement, while the latter firmly denies it.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt states that they even have video evidence of what the Iranians were doing, but so far they deny it, along with the accusation that their military tried to shoot down an American drone observing the tankers with a surface-to-air missile. The observation was mostly due to the fact that six tankers have been attacked in the Gulf in the past several weeks.
It’s thought that these attacks might have to do with renewed economic pressure facing Iran after the US backed out of its nuclear deal from 2015, which has imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports, among other things. This theory comes from Associate political scientist Ariane Tabatabai at RAND Corporation, though there is no way to prove it.
As for the situation at the Strait, Pompeo assures that the United States will do whatever it takes to ensure free passage of the area, as the Strait is a critical part of the global oil trade. If it is being harassed or obstructed, it affects the global oil trade, and affects numerous countries, as seen by the fact that two of the tankers hit were of countries extremely far from one another. Pompeo claims that the US does not “want war” but the freedom of the Strait will be guaranteed through means diplomatic or otherwise if necessary.
It remains to be seen if Iran will admit to the attacks, or if they are well and truly responsible for them at all. For now, we can only watch as tensions rise in regards to the Strait of Hormuz.