US says Iran removed unexploded mine from oil tanker

US says Iran removed unexploded mine from oil tanker

The tanker survived the first attack that hit near the engine room, followed by another causing damage to the star-board side toward the back. If confirmed, the next steps might be to either deactivate or detonate the device.

The Gulf of Oman lies at the other end of the strategic Strait of Hormuz from the Gulf, part of a vital chokepoint through which at least 15 million barrels of crude oil and hundreds of millions of dollars of non-oil imports pass. Prices later settled about 2% higher.

The US has blamed Iran for earlier attacks on oil tankers, saying Iranian-made limpet mines were used to attack four oil tankers on May 12 off the Emirati port of Fujairah.

The United States has called for the UN Security Council to confront a "clear threat" posed by Tehran, after Washington said Iran was behind an attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. He provided no evidence, gave no specifics about any plans and took no questions.

"US Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance". Iranian officials have rejected the accusation.

But the latest incident has increased fears that tensions could lead to a possible military confrontation between the United States and Iran.

The attacks near Iran and the Strait of Hormuz pushed oil prices up as much as 4.5% on Thursday, putting the brakes on a slide in prices in recent weeks over concerns about global demand.

Both Iran and the United States have released pictures showing rescued crew members on board their vessels. Iran's oil exports have dropped to around 400,000 barrels per day in May from 2.5 million barrel per day in April a year ago.

"The US and the global community stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation", he said.

"Warning, once again, about all of the USA coercion, intimidation and malign behaviour, Iran expresses concern over suspicious incidents for the oil tankers that occurred today". Tehran has bluntly denied the allegation.

The crews of both ships struck on Thursday were picked up safely.

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"The attacks put upward pressure on the probability of a US-Iran conflict in the Gulf (currently 30 per cent)", the Eurasia Group said in a note before Mr Pompeo spoke.

The Security Council discussed the attacks behind closed doors on Thursday, 13 June, at the request of the US. However, the president failed to specify whether it was there before or after the attack.

Britain has backed the US's claim that Iran is behind the attacks and said its actions were "deeply unwise".

Iranian state television said 44 sailors from the two tankers have been transferred to an Iranian port in the southern province of Hormozgan.

"The U.S. president, after a meeting with you and discussions on Iran ... imposed sanctions on Iranian petrochemical sector".

US allies in Europe and Asia have repeatedly expressed concern that tension between the United States and Iran could escalate into an armed conflict. "However, we will defend our interests".

Iran previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the "Tanker War", which saw the U.S. Navy escort ships through the region. The crew was rescued from the flaming tanker by the Iranian navy, the outlet reported. Japanese public broadcaster NHK, citing Kokuka Sangyo's chief executive officer, said the ship was hit by a shell.

"There is always the possibility that somebody is trying to blame the Iranians", said Jon Alterman of Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, referring to a so-called "false flag" operation to implicate another nation.

The tanker attacks occurred as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Teheran meeting officials in what was seen as an effort to help ease tensions between the United States and Iran.

Pompeo's remarks come amid an escalating conflict between the USA and Iran that was sparked following Washington abandoning the Iran anti-nuclear agreement past year.

"The supreme leader's government then insulted Japan by attacking a Japanese-owned oil tanker just outside Iranian waters, threatening the lives of the entire crew, creating a maritime emergency", Pompeo added. Abe urged all sides not to let tensions escalate.