In a press briefing at the State Department Thursday, June 13, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran is responsible for two attacks against separate ships that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today.

Map showing area of attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz on June 13, 2019, in the Sea of Oman. (CIA Maps)

”Good afternoon. 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. 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,” said Pompeo.

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Both of attacks were on oil tankers; the Norwegian owned Front Altair and the Japanese owned Kokuka Courageous. Early reports indicate that the Norwegian tanker was attacked by torpedo and the Japanese ship may have been attacked by a magnetic underwater mine bomb causing a series of explosions. Fire erupted on both vessels as a result of the attacks, which caused the price of oil to spike Thursday following a drop in oil prices on Wednesday.

Secretary Pompeo said that these attacks are just the most recent in a string of attacks on various targets by Iran.

“This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests.”

The secretary of state said that on April 22, Iran announced that it would interrupt the flow of oil through the Straight of Hormuz and is now executing on that promise. Attacks on both of the oil tankers took place just south of the Straight of Hormuz in the Gulf of Oman.

Secretary Pompeo went on to list multiple attacks by Iran in recent months.

  • May 14th, Iran surrogates conduct drone attacks on two strategic oil pipelines to Saudi Arabia
  • May 12th, Iran attacks four commercial ships near the Strait of Hormuz.
  • May 14th, Iran surrogates conduct drone attacks on two strategic oil pipelines to Saudi Arabia
  • May 19th, a rocket lands near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad
  • May 31st, a car bomb in Afghanistan wounds four U.S. service members, kills four Afghan civilians, and wound bystanders
  • Jun 12, Iran surrogates fire missile into Saudi Arabia, striking arrivals terminal of airport injuring 26
The MT Front Altair in Antwerp, Belgium, in May 2018. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on June 13, 2019. (Patrick Vereecke/Marine Traffic via AP)

Referencing the multiple attacks, Pompeo said, “Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran.”

Secretary Pompeo stated the U.S. position on the reasons and intentions behind the attacks.

“Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted. No economic sanctions entitle the Islamic Republic to attack innocent civilians, disrupt global oil markets, and engage in nuclear blackmail. The international community condemns Iran’s assault on the freedom of navigation and the targeting of innocent civilians.”

Pompeo said he instructed the United States UN Ambassador Jonathan Cohen to address the attacks at a UN Security Council meeting later Thursday afternoon.

The secretary of state stated with the U.S. position on such attacks.

“The United States will defend its forces, interests, and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability. And we call upon all nations threatened by Iran’s provocative acts to join us in that endeavor.”

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