Skip to main content

World Pompeo tries rallying foreign leaders over alleged oil tanker attacks

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo closes his remarks as he departs after a media availability, at the State Department on June 13, 2019, in Washington. Pompeo says Iran is believed to be responsible for attacks on two oil tankers near the Persian Gulf.

The Associated Press

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is working the phones to convince wary leaders in Asia and Europe that Iran was behind alleged attacks on shipping in a key Middle East oil route – and that it’s a problem for the whole international community to deal with, not just the United States.

While calling U.S. evidence “unmistakable” that Iran was to blame for alleged attacks on two oil tankers last week near the Strait of Hormuz, Pompeo was emphasizing international diplomacy over any possible new U.S. military response in appearances on Sunday news shows.

“We are going to work to build out a set of countries that have deep vested interest in keeping that strait open to help us do that,” Pompeo said.

Story continues below advertisement

“I made a bunch of phone calls yesterday. I’ll make a whole bunch more calls today. The world needs to unite,” Pompeo said. He did not say what kind of action the Trump administration was envisioning.

Iran has denied being involved in the attacks and accused America of promoting an “Iranophobic” campaign against it.

Pressed on whether new U.S. military deployment to the region was possible, Pompeo said that “of course” remained among the options that President Donald Trump may consider to keep oil tankers moving through the narrow strait, a strategic choke point for oil shipments from the Middle East.

Trump last year withdrew the U.S. from an international agreement, signed in 2015 by President Barack Obama, to limit Iran’s nuclear program. Trump has reinstated economic sanctions and recently ended waivers that allowed some countries to continue buying Iranian oil. That has deprived Iran of oil income and has coincided with what U.S. officials said was a surge in intelligence pointing to Iranian preparations for attacks against U.S. forces and interests in the Gulf region.

The U.S. has accelerated the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier battle group to the region, sent four nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Qatar and bolstered its defences in the region by deploying more Patriot air defence systems.

Some European allies have called for a careful investigation of responsibility, worried that Trump was escalating tensions with a country he has long called a top U.S. enemy.

Pompeo stressed that the U.S. gets relatively little of its energy supplies through the strait, which lies between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says 16 per cent of U.S. petroleum imports came from the Persian Gulf countries in 2018.

Story continues below advertisement

By contrast, about 80% of oil through the shipping passage supplies energy-hungry countries in Asia, including China, Japan, India and South Korea. Those countries have an interest in keeping the oil flowing, he said.

“I’m confident that when they see the risk – the risk of their own economies and their own people and outrageous behaviour of the Islamic Republic of Iran, they will join us in this,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo said intelligence officials had “lots of data, lots of evidence” that Iran was responsible. Pressed for specifics, Pompeo pointed to grainy black-and-white footage already released by the U.S.

American officials say the footage shows Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops removing an unexploded mine from a Japanese tanker. The tanker’s crew gave an apparently different account, saying “flying objects” targeted the vessel.

Pompeo said the administration had shared the video and other unspecified evidence with Germany and other nations.

Asked if the U.S. had a credibility problem with allies worried Trump could be seeking a pretext to move against Iran, the secretary of state said, “We’re not selling anything. These … these are simple facts.”

Story continues below advertisement

Pompeo spoke on “Fox News Sunday” and CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter