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USA believes Iran proxies may be behind tanker attacks, official says

15 May 2019

U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters in Brussels before talks with Pompeo on Monday that "we are very anxious about a conflict, about the risk of a conflict. of an escalation that is unintended", according to Reuters. Earlier this week, the United States announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier and strategic bombers in the Middle East after "indications of a real threat from the Iranian regime forces".

"There won't be any war".

"Iran might be doing all that it could do before having to negotiate USA terms, or before the U.S. targets Tehran..." Tehran has called the US military presence "a target" rather than a threat.

The Trump administration's ultimate objective, she said, is to facilitate negotiations with Iran and negotiate a better deal after the USA pulled out of the JCPOA - the Iran nuclear deal - a year ago.

The Pentagon justified the naval deployment by citing "intelligence" of a possible looming Iranian attack on US interests in the region. The landmark pact imposed limits on Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

On Sunday it was revealed that President Trump had increased economic pressure on Iran and was looking to cut off all its oil exports in a bid to get Tehran to curb its nuclear and missile programs.

The comments come after the Pentagon deployed the USS Lincoln, the fifth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in the United States Navy, to the Middle East in a move that officials said was to counter "clear indications" of threats from Iran. And Iran looks like it's being backed into a corner.

Shortly after the Saudi announcement, Iran's Foreign Ministry called for further clarification about what exactly happened with the vessels.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, also expressed worry on Tuesday, saying: "We had previously predicted that such actions would occur to create tensions in the region".

In his assessment, Yadlin says that Iran has embarked on a three-pronged strategy: It strives to force European countries to consolidate and institutionalize the mechanism for compensation for American sanctions.

Democratic Party candidates are already campaigning ahead of the November 2020 USA election aiming to stop Republican Trump being re-elected.

Shortly before Tuesday's attacks, Yemen's Houthi rebels declared on their television station that they had launched at least seven drone attacks on significant targets into neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The country's energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, said one of the tankers had been on its way to be loaded with Saudi oil which was to be delivered to customers in the US.

"One of the two vessels was on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude oil from the port of Ras Tanura, to be delivered to Saudi Aramco's customers in the United States".

Saudi-flagged oil tanker Al Marzoqah off the coast of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, Monday, May 13, 2019.

Benchmark Brent crude traded at $71 a barrel Tuesday, up $1.27 on the day. Some have said the event is similar to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, when then President Lyndon Johnson used an alleged attack on two USA naval destroyers in Vietnam as a pretext for escalating US involvement in the ongoing Vietnam War.

The Council of Ministers on Tuesday reaffirmed the common responsibility of the global community in ensuring the safety of sea navigation and security of oil tankers to ward off the negative impacts on the energy markets and jeopardizing the world economy.

The UAE has not blamed anyone for what it called sabotage on the vessels.

"The Department of Energy is aware of efforts to disrupt oil shipping as reported by the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates", said Shaylyn Hynes, DOE press secretary, about the attack near Fujairah emirate, one of the world's largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz.

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USA believes Iran proxies may be behind tanker attacks, official says