Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has accused Iran of the recent attacks on oil tankers along a key shipping route in the Gulf. In a sign of mounting pressure on Iran, the Saudi leader said his country “won’t hesitate” to tackle any threats that Iran poses. The threat comes after US President Donald Trump dismissed Iran’s insistence it had no involvement with the attacks in the Gulf of Oman.
Two oil tankers, the Panama-registered Kokuka Courageous, operated by Japan’s Kokuka Sangyo Co, and Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair, owned by Norway’s Frontline, were hit by blasts in the Gulf of Oman, near the Strait of Hormuz.
While the causes of the incident remain unknown, the United States says Iran had attacked the vessels.
The United States subsequently released a video showing alleged Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers.
The footage, however, did not show any boat names or flags that could help substantiate the claims.
The UK said responsibility for Thursday’s attacks “almost certainly” lies with Iran.
However, Iran has denied all the allegations of having a role in the incident.
The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweeted on Friday that the US had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence”.
In an interview published earlier today, the Saudi Crown Prince called on the international community to take a “decisive stand” against what he believed was Iranian aggression.
He said: “We do not want a war in the region. But we won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests.”
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih echoed this, calling for a “swift and decisive” response to the attacks.
On Saturday, the head of the world’s biggest international shipping association said some firms have ordered their ships not to enter the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman as a result of the attacks.
Jakob Larsen, head of maritime security at BIMCO, told the BBC military escorts for tankers could be organised if the situation worsened.
Iran has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the strategic Hormuz Strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any attack by the US.