Gulf of Oman: Iran protests to United Kingdom ambassador

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks from the State Department briefing room

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks from the State Department briefing room

Although Iran has denied being behind the explosions, experts believe it could be a response to U.S. sanctions meant to stop other nations from purchasing Iranian oil.

Asked whether Iran was behind the attacks on the tankers, Hunt told the BBC's Andrew Marr show: "We have done our own intelligence assessment and the phrase we used is nearly certain".

But the leading official underscored President Trump said he does not want to go to war.

Pompeo said the U.S. was discussing a possible global response, and he had made a number of calls to foreign officials about the tanker attacks.

Thursdays attacks, on the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, came just a month after the United Arab Emirates reported "sabotage attacks" against four commercial ships off its coast in the Gulf of Oman.

Iran rejects accusations it was responsible for Thursday's attacks, saying it stands ready to play an active and constructive role in ensuring the security of maritime passages.

It said that an Iranian surface-to-air missile attempted to shoot down a U.S. drone over the Gulf of Oman shortly after one of the tankers, the Kokuka Courageous, was attacked. Britain, at odds with Washington over how to handle Iran, acknowledges the USA policy of applying maximum economic pressure is taking a huge toll on Iran and has pushed the country close to insolvency. Now, Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels if European nations don't offer it new terms to the deal by July 7.

In an interview with the Saudi-funded newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday, bin Salman unleashed criticism against Iran and its proxies for triggering violence in the region.

He also tied Iran to a drone attack by Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on a crucial Saudi oil pipeline around the same time. We have got videos of what happened. The US blamed Iran for that attack, but did not produce evidence.

"Such incidents can undermine the foundations of the world economy". He said that unfounded accusations should not be considered.

"We always urge a sober appraisal of the situation and to wait for more or less convincing evidence to appear", Peskov said on Russian television, extracts of which were published by the RIA Novosti news agency.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today, Thornberry said "these are extremely unsafe developments and we really have to pause and think about where we are going next" and that there are times when the government should not follow the U.S.

It requires an impartial investigation into the incident, rather than jumping to hasty and baseless conclusions, he said.

Twenty-three crew members from a Norwegian-owned oil tanker that was attacked in the Gulf of Oman have arrived safely in Dubai, the shipping company that owns the tanker said Saturday. The ship's crew were "safe and well", it added.

The Japanese tanker's Tokyo-based operator Kokuka confirmed on Saturday the vessel was heading to port in the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan called on world powers "to secure worldwide navigation and access to energy", a plea echoed by regional ally Saudi Arabia after the incident sent crude prices soaring.