The United States has blamed Iran for the explosions of Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The reports of the attack on the Japanese vessel came at a time when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini. Abe is the first prime minister of Japan to visit Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. He went to Tehran with the agenda of negotiation between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran which was rejected by Khameini.
US State Secretary Mike Pompeo has warned against what he calls an unprovoked attack in international territory. He had asked the US ambassador to the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen, to raise this issue in the UN Security Council meeting. Iran has termed the allegations of the US warmongering.
The causes of the explosions are still unknown but the US Central Command released a video to show that Iranian vessels were removing an unexploded mine from one of the damaged ships. This is the second round of attacks on oil vessels in the Gulf of Oman after an oil tanker of the UAE was hit by Houthi rebels in the same area.
The Strait of Hormuz holds a vital place for the mobility of crude oil to other parts of the world. The incidents pushed the price of Brent crude oil by at least 4.5%. The tension in West Asia persists since Donald Trump’s administration pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018. The United States has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran hitting its economy and industries, to force the Islamic regime to renegotiate for a new nuclear deal.