Tensions are rising the Middle East the latest attacks on oil tankers. The USA is blaming Iran the attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. The tankers are owned Japan and Norway. They were hit blasts while navigating waters close to the strategically important Strait Hormuz between Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Around a fifth the world's oil passes the Strait, which is just 68km at its narrowest point. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran was the "blatant assault" on the vessels. He said the U.S. would defend itself and its allies "Iranian aggression" in the region. However, he provided no evidence that Iran was behind the attacks.
The attacks are the second such incidents carried against tankers the past month. Two Saudi tankers were sabotaged in the UAE port of Fujairah last month. The U.S. says the latest tankers were hit mines and posted a video online supposed Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine the hull of one of the ships. Iran's Foreign Minister described the attacks as "suspicious". He said Iran's navy was investigating them. Iran called the U.S. accusations "unfounded," "inflammatory" and "Iranophobic". The Japanese owner one the tankers said his vessel was struck some kind missile and not a mine. The United Nations cautioned that the truth needed to be "clearly established".