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Saudi Crown Prince Blames Iran For Tanker Attacks, Says Ready 'To Deal With Any Threat'

By RFE/RL June 15, 2019

Saudi Arabia's crown prince has directly blamed archrival Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and said his country "won't hesitate to deal with any threat" against its people or interests.

"The Iranian regime did not respect the Japanese prime minister's visit to Tehran, and while he was there replied to his efforts by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese," Muhammed bin Salman told the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in an interview published on June 16.

"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," he said, according to the newspaper.

He added that the incidents require that the international community take a "decisive stand" to counter the threats.

Tensions have risen to new heights after two recent attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf region -- both of which the United States and its Persian Gulf allies, including Saudi Arabia, have blamed on Iran.

U.S. President Donald Trump on June 14 accused Iran of carrying out the most-recent attack, on June 13, against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The incident occurred during a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Iran.

The Pentagon has released a grainy video claiming to show patrol boats from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) removing what appeared to be an unexploded mine from the side of one of the ships after the attack.

The latest incident came a month after attacks on four tankers off the coast of the nearby United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), an incident Washington and the Saudis also blamed on Iran.

Iran has denied any involvement in the attacks. On June 16, Tehran summoned the British ambassador after London said it agreed with the United States that Iran attacked the tankers in the June 13 incident.

Iran's IRNA news agency reported that Iranian diplomat Mahmoud Barimani told Ambassador Robert Macaire that Tehran strongly protested Britain's "blindly and hastily following" the United States in accusing Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Washington had "immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence."

Iran in the past has said it could block the strategic Strait of Hormuz as a countermeasure to any attack by the United States. Such a move would disrupt oil tankers traveling out of the Persian Gulf region and likely lead to a sharp rise in world oil prices.

U.A.E. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan on June 16 called on world powers "to secure international navigation and access to energy."

Nevertheless, Nahyan, speaking at a summit in Bulgaria, said his country – a U.S. and Saudi ally also opposed to Iran – called for an easing of tensions in the region.

"We remain hopeful in attaining a broader framework for cooperation with Iran," he said.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/saudi-crown-prince-salman- blames-iran-tanker-attacks/30001400.html

Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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