IRIB News Agency via AP
- President Trump doubled down on US accusations that Iran was behind the attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman early Thursday.
- The president told Fox & Friends Friday morning that the attack "has Iran written all over it," stressing that the US has evidence of Iran's alleged misconduct.
- Tehran has repeatedly denied any involvement in the latest attacks, which come on the heels of a similar attack last month.
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President Donald Trump said Friday morning that the tanker attack in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday "has Iran written all over it," stressing that Iran was definitely behind the attacks even as Tehran continues to deny any and all involvement.
"Iran did do it, and you know they did it because you saw the boat," the president told Fox and Friends. Photos and videos released by US Central Command show a suspected unexploded limpet mine fixed to the side of one of the tankers, as well as the crew of an Iranian Gashti-class patrol boat taking the mine.
Trump said the Iranians were trying to hide the evidence. "That was exposed, that was their boat, that was them, and they didn't want the evidence behind," Trump further explained. "I guess they didn't know that we have things that we could detect in the dark."
A limpet mine is a type of explosive with a detonator that can be attached to the hull of a ship using magnets. This type of weapon is believed to have been deployed in an attack on four tankers in May, an incident that the US also blamed on the Iranians.
The president's comments to Fox follow a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Thursday afternoon accusing Iran of carrying out the attacks on two tankers, the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous.
"On April 22, Iran promised the world it would interrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. It is now working to execute on that promise," Pompeo explained. "These attacks are a threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable escalation of tension by Iran."
Iran, as it did last month, has rejected US accusations.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter Thursday that the US "immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran - [without] a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence." Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Friday that the accusations are "alarming."
Asked about a response to the latest incident, Trump said Friday, "We don't take it lightly, that I can tell you." He added that Iran is in "deep, deep trouble."
The US began deploying troops and weapons into the CENTCOM area of responsibility last month in response to "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" from Iran. Gen. Frank McKenzie, CENTCOM commander, recently told reporters that there are talks about a more robust US military presence in the region.
One option reportedly being discussed is military escorts for commercial ships, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing US officials who made it clear that no decision has yet been made on a response.
CENTCOM told Business Insider that it has not yet received any guidance or orders calling for an escalation of forces or a change in posture, despite Thursday's accusations.