US to offer more evidence on tanker attacks as Iran threatens to...

US to offer more evidence on tanker attacks as Iran threatens to ramp up uranium enrichment

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers keynote on “The U.S. and India: An Economic Foundation for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific” at the U.S.-India Business Council’s India Ideas Summit on June 12 (State Dept. photo)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration says there are more examples that support its contention that Iran was behind the attacks last week on two oil tankers. As of yet, however, that proof has not been released and some allies remain wary.

With the exception of the United Kingdom, NATO and other U.S. allies have been mostly silent on any response to the attack and the White House claims of Iran’s role in them. Germany’s foreign minister said the video purporting to show Iranian military personnel removing an unexploded mine from the hull of one of the attacked ships is not sufficient.

“We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me,” Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, told reporters in Berlin on Friday.

Skeptics said a full video, showing how and when it was filed and the full sequence is critical to establishing veracity.

“The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday on Fox. “The world will come to see much of it, but the American people should rest assured we have high confidence with respect to who conducted these attacks as well as half a dozen other attacks throughout the world.”

The Pentagon has also said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps attempted to shoot down a U.S. drone over the area, CNN reported.

Pompeo’s assertions received some bipartisan support on Sunday. Rep. Adam Schiff (DCal.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said, “There’s no question that Iran’s behind the attacks.

“The problem is we’re struggling, even in the midst of this strong evidence, to persuade our allies to join us in any kind of response,” Schiff said on CBS. “It shows just how isolated the U.S. has become.”

Britain strongly concurred that Iran is to blame.

“It is almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — attacked the two tankers on 13 June. No other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible,” a statement said from the U.K. government released Friday said. It also blamed Iran for four previous attacks on May 12.

On Monday, Iran said it is boosting the enrichment of low-grade uranium and will pass the limit it is allowed to stockpile under a nuclear agreement in 10 days, according to news reports.

“If Iran feels that the sanctions have been reinstated or not lifted, Iran has the right to partly or on the whole suspend its commitments,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesperson for the Iranian nuclear agency, told reporters in Iran. He was referencing sanctions that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal but have since been reinstated by the White House after the U.S. left the treaty in May 2018.

Pompeo said all options remain on the table to deal with Iran.

“What you should assume is that we’re going to guarantee freedom of navigation throughout the straits,” Pompeo said on Fox. “This is an international challenge. This is important to the entire globe. The United States is going to make sure that we do – take all the actions necessary, diplomatic and otherwise, that achieve that outcome.

Among the areas under consideration, according to Pentagon officials: sending more troops and hardware to the region, including ships, submarines and aircraft; cyber warfare focused on Iranian military assets; a limited strike on Iranian military assets, such as swarm boat facilities and minelayers; and organizing an international coalition to escort commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz.

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