What we know about the Gulf tanker attacks

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The footage was released as Britain backed the United States in its assessment that Iran was responsible for the suspected attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

He suggested that those flying objects could have been bullets, and called reports of striking a mine "false".

Despite the attacks happening at the same time that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei was meeting Prime Minister Abe for peace talks, the U.S. were swift to blame Tehran - without providing any evidence.

"If the hostility of enemies increase, we will be able to do so", Iran's armed forces chief of staff, Mohammad Bagheri, told semi-official ISNA in April.

Trump, in an interview on Fox News, blamed Iran for the attack. It's not going to be closed.

The United States has blamed Iran for an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, releasing video footage that it claims shows an Iranian patrol boat removing an exploded mine from one of the vessels' hulls. Iran has said it would not start a conflict but would deliver a "crushing response" to any attack. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pinned the blame firmly on Iran, based on "intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping" and more.

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Trump also warned Iran not to close off the strait, saying if it does so, it won't be shut for long.

Despite talking to Trump before flying to Tehran, Abe insisted he was not bringing specific detailed messages on behalf of the United States president.

Iran denied responsibility for the June 13 attack and accused the United States of "warmongering". He said the US goal is to "build worldwide consensus to this global problem", and to ensure that USA military commanders in the region get the resources and support they need.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced Thursday's incidents at a Security Council meeting, saying: "I strongly condemn any attack against civilian incidents".

The U.S. political and military standoff with Iran hardened as conflicting narratives about a pair of attacks on tankers near the Persian Gulf stoked regional tensions and raised the risk of a miscalculation.

But Iran dismissed Trump's overture, details of which were not made public.

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Pompeo said: "Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted".

Officials said that Pentagon deliberations about possibly sending more military resources to the region, including more Patriot missile batteries, could be accelerated by Thursday's dramatic attack on the oil tankers.

US Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesperson for his country's US Military's Central Command, said that the images showed the IRGC removing an "unexploded limpet mine" from the Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous. One of the targeted vessels is owned by a Japanese company while the other was Norwegian-operated.

The Norwegian-owned Front Altair ethanol tanker was hit by three explosions, according to the Norwegian Maritime Authority, and remained ablaze late Thursday. "We just don't have enough proof right now", said Sen.

Last month Washington scrapped waivers that had allowed some countries to continue importing Iranian oil, effectively ordering all countries to blacklist Iran or face sanctions themselves.

Iran's crude exports fell to about 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in May from 2.5 million bpd in April 2018, draining Tehran's main source of revenues and hurting an economy already weakened by years of isolation. Last month it said it would boost enrichment of uranium, a move that could potentially lead to it building up a stockpile prohibited under the deal.

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U.S. and European intelligence believe Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps may be striking back against Washington as the ban on Iranian oil exports sends the Iranian economy into a nosedive.

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