* Pompey: Iran is implementing a promise to stop the flow of oil from the Strait of Hormuz
*WE. The Ambassador of U.N. will raise the issue in the Security Council
* President Trump says "It's too early to think about making a deal" with Iran
* Trump says Iran is not ready to meet, "nor are we!"
Trump says he appreciates the efforts made by Japanese Prime Minister Abe to meet Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei
(The following article will be updated)
DUBAI – Two tankers were attacked off the coast of Iran at the start of Thursday, reigniting fears of disruptions on one of the world's busiest oil routes and raising questions about the Trump administration's next steps in its situation stall with Tehran.
The incidents in the Strait of Hormuz, through which over a third of the world's crude oil is shipped, have shipped much higher oil prices. Brent crude, the international benchmark for crude oil prices, rose to 4% before losing some of these gains.
The attacks, even on a ship operated by a Japanese company, arrived while Tehran rejected Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's attempts to ease military tensions with the United States.
They seemed to use relatively sophisticated weapons, according to preliminary evaluations, and reached about 45 minutes one from the other in the Gulf of Oman, where four tanks were attacked last month in an accident that the United States they blamed Iran. Iran has denied responsibility for any attacks, including Thursday.
The United States has not accused Iran of Thursday's attacks. Trump administration officials believed that a military build-up in the United States last month in the Middle East, including a group of aircraft carriers and a battery of missiles, may have discouraged Iran and its allies from action. hostile. But with the most recent incidents, the administration will probably address questions about the next steps for the US military presence, since President Trump is reluctant to launch a military conflict with Iran.
The White House said "the United States is providing assistance and will continue to assess the situation".
Iran, under US financial sanctions that have stifled most of its crude oil exports and sent the country into a painful recession, has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if it cannot export oil. A top military commander who repeated the warning in front of the country's parliament on May 25th.
The damage to one of the tankers was vast, including a hole in the waterline that was consistent with a torpedo or other projectile shot, according to initial assessments. The other ship, a Japanese tanker, was hit by a bullet in a series of assaults, Japanese officials said.
Two tankers were attacked near where naval assaults took place last month.
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Both caught fire and their crews abandoned the ship. Neither of them seemed to be in danger of sinking, the authorities said. Both carried oil products destined for Asia.
The flare represents a further skirmish in the Persian Gulf emanating from the crisis that followed Trump's decision last year to withdraw from an international agreement in 2015 to curb Iran's nuclear program.
A missile launched by Houthi militias allied to Iran in Yemen injured 26 civilians in a southern Saudi Arabia airport on Wednesday, taking Saudi charges that the rebels targeted civilians directly. Last month, the Houthi took credit for damaging attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure. No one claimed responsibility for last month's oil tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman last month, although the United Arab Emirates told the UK that the aggressor was most likely a state actor.
The Iranian government spokesman suggested that Thursday's attacks could be the work of actors trying to drag the region into chaos.
"All countries in the region should be careful not to fall into the trap of those who benefit from regional insecurity," spokesman Ali Rabei told Fars news agency.
Some analysts have questioned the denials of Iran. "Today's attacks seem to be part of a systematic Iranian effort to show that peace and security in the Gulf are conditioned by their economic stability," said Ayham Kamel, head of the Middle East and North Africa analysis for Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting firm, in a note.
The attack on a Japanese command ship arrived a few hours before Mr. Abe met with Mr. Khamenei to try to lighten the confrontation between the United States and Tehran. Khamenei rejected Mr Abe's effort to start negotiations between Tehran and Washington, obscuring the prospects for dialogue.
"We do not believe these words because honest negotiations will not come from an individual like (the President) Trump," Khamenei said, according to Iranian state television.
Mr. Abe, who has positioned himself as a mediator between Washington and Tehran, told reporters that he sent Mr. Trump's hope to Mr. Khamenei to avoid a military escalation. It was not clear whether Mr. Abe or Mr. Khamenei were aware of the attacks before the start of the meeting.
Strikes represented the last danger for oil infrastructure in the Persian Gulf, where more than a quarter of the world's oil is produced every day. Maritime insurance companies are increasing their tariffs for goods crossing the Persian Gulf and some ship captains are refusing travel until the tensions abate.
Thursday's incidents have alarmed Saudi officials, worried that repeated attacks are revealing disturbing security gaps around the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean beyond. Saudi officials not allowed to speak publicly said the kingdom would push the US to open a wider investigation and examine more closely the role of Iran.
Tankers attached to Hormuz
Key statistics on tankers that have been attacked
Gross tonnage: 109.894 tons
Gross tonnage: 19,349 tons
The two tankers attacked Thursday were the Front Altair, owned by the Bermuda shipping company
and the Kokuka Courageous, managed by the Japanese Kokuka Sangyo.
The central command of US naval forces in Bahrain, which controls US naval operations in the region, has received two calls for relief regarding the attacks, one at 6:12 am local time and another at 7:00 am, Cmdr said. Josh Frey, a spokesman for the command.
After a first attack on the Kokuka with a bullet, it was a pause, followed by one or more attacks, said Norio Ishihara, a director of the maritime office of the Japanese transport ministry. At least one bullet hit the ship, he said, without identifying the type.
The 170,000-ton, 19,000-ton ship carried 21 members of the Filipino crew, and everyone was safe, said Ishihara. The Kokuka was about 14 nautical miles from the coast of Iran when the attack took place and about 70 nautical miles from Fujairah, on the east coast of the U.A.E.
"Why does our ship have to be attacked? I'm angry because lives and security have been threatened," said Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo.
Frontline investigators were examining the photos as part of an early-stage probe, according to a person familiar with that effort. This person said that the damage appears to be consistent with a shot of a torpedo or another bullet.
The unstable rhetoric of the Trump administration towards Iran continues. Gerald F. Seib of WSJ explores what is behind conflicting messages. Photo: Getty
The commander of the Hyundai Dubai, a ship that provided assistance to the Front Altair, conveyed in a distress call that the commander of the stricken ship believed that the accident was "most likely torpedo attack, torpedo attack", according to a recording of the call. A nearby ship captain, talking to the satellite phone, said he had seen a hole in the ship's waterline, and that it was consistent with a torpedo shot.
The USS Bainbridge, a destroyer, made the assistance, as did the Iranian ships passing by. Frontline said the Altair Front crew was taken away by an Iranian navy ship and landed in an Iranian port, where repatriation efforts were underway for 11 Russian sailors, one Georgian and 11 Filipinos.
-Alastair Gale and Aresu Eqbali in Tehran, Mayumi Negishi in Tokyo and Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef in Washington contributed to this article.
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