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If Iran tried and closed the critical oil shipping lane in the Middle East, the Strait of Hormuz, “it’s not going to be closed for long,” U.S. President Donald Trump told Fox & Friends in an interview on Friday, in which he also directly blamed Iran for Thursday’s attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
On Thursday, two oil tankers were apparently attacked in the Gulf of Oman, just outside the Strait of Hormuz which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the open seas. The daily flows of oil through the Strait of Hormuz accounts for around 30 percent of all seaborne-traded crude oil and other liquids.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted early on Thursday that “Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” referring to the attacks.
Later on Thursday, the United States blamed Iran, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying:
“It is the assessment of the U.S. government that Iran is responsible for today’s attacks in the Gulf of Oman. These attacks are a threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable escalation of tension by Iran.”
On Friday, President Trump told Fox & Friends “Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” pointing to a video released by the Pentagon showing what is believed to be an Iranian vessel removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers hit yesterday.
The mine has “Iran written all over it,” President Trump said, adding that “We don't take it lightly,” referring to the attacks.
Iran denies involvement in the incidents, while its foreign minister Zarif said on Twitter that the U.S. “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran—w/o a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader said on Thursday “I don't consider Trump worth sending a message to, we won't negotiate with U.S.”
Oil prices jumped on Thursday after news of the tanker attacks broke, but prices have been weighed down during the week by fears of slowing oil demand growth and rising U.S. inventories, and are on track for a weekly loss.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.