US assessment blames Iran for Saudi tankers attack

US assessment blames Iran for Saudi tankers attack

An initial US assessment has indicated that Iran was likelyto be behind the attack on two Saudi Arabian oil tankers and two other vesselsdamaged over the weekend off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), anAmerican official said.

The assessment, while not conclusive, was the firstsuggestion by any nation that Iran was responsible and comes after a series ofUS warnings against aggression by Tehran or its allies and proxies againstmilitary or commercial vessels in the region, reports Efe news.

The US official on Monday didn't offer details about whatled to the assessment or its implications for a possible American response.

Last week, the US said that it was sending an aircraftcarrier, an amphibious assault ship, a bomber task force and an anti-missilesystem to the region after it alleged intelligence showed Iran posed a threatto its troops.

"If they do anything, they will suffer greatly. We'llsee what happens with Iran," President Donald Trump said while meetingHungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House earlier on Monday.

The Saudi tankers were among at least four oil-industryvessels, including ships from Norway and the UAE, attacked on Sunday in theGulf of Oman off the UAE's eastern coast just outside the Strait of Hormuz asthey prepared to cross into the Persian Gulf.

The attacks caused "significant damage to thestructures of the two (Saudi) vessels," Saudi Energy Minister Khalidal-Falih said on Monday, calling the incident "sabotage".

Falih said one of the ships was headed to the Saudi port ofRas Tanura on the Persian Gulf to load oil bound for the US.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE have publicly blamed Iranfor the attack so far.

The attacks sent oil prices higher and heightened worries aboutglobal supplies amid petroleum-production outages because of unrest inVenezuela, a civil war in Libya and sanctions on Iran.

Saudi and American US officials have long worried about theStrait of Hormuz becoming a battleground should tensions with Iran break outinto open conflict.

A third of the world's liquefied natural gas and almost 20per cent of total global oil production flows through the Strait of Hormuz forexport from Persian Gulf countries. Cutting off oil shipped through the straitwould cause shortages and soaring prices.

Meanwhile Iran, which borders the Strait of Hormuz, calledthe incident "worrisome and dreadful" and called for a fullinvestigation.

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