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John Bolton says Iran is ‘almost certainly’ behind oil tanker ‘attacks’

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday that Iran was likely behind the attacks on four ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates earlier this month.

Bolton made the remarks in Abu Dhabi, during a visit to the Emirati capital “to discuss important and timely regional security matters.”

Bolton, known for his hawkish stance on Iran, alleged that the four ships were attacked by “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.” He did not offer any details or evidence to back up the claim.

What we know so far:

  • On May 12, the United Arab Emirates claimed that four oil tankers were attacked in the strategic port of Fujairah, UAE.
  • Fujairah is the only port on the Arabian Sea coast that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz, through which most oil exports pass on their way from the Persian Gulf.
  • Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were “significantly damaged” and reported an attack on its east-west pipeline by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on the same day.
  • Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of ordering the pipeline attacks, targeting “the security of oil supplies… and the global economy.”
  • Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE provided details on the oil tanker attacks or accused anyone of responsibility.
  • A team from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the US, France and Norway are currently investigating the incident.
  • The United States initially said it was “quite possible” that Iran was behind the alleged attack.
  • Iran has denied any involvement in the incident

What Bolton said:

“There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who’s responsible for this,” Bolton said.

“Not going to get into the specifics. That’s something the ship owners and the countries involved will release at their discretion,” he added, in reference to the ongoing investigation.

“The point is to make it very clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kinds of action risk a very strong response from the United States,” he said.

Bolton also told reporters in Abu Dhabi that he saw “no reason” for Iran to back out of the nuclear deal with world powers other than to seek atomic weapons. Last year, Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the accord; the US has since sought to force other countries to halt trade with Iran.