Oil-Tanker Attacks A 'Dangerous Escalation' In U.S.-Iran Confrontation, Expert Says

Attacks on two commercial oil tankers in the Gulf Of Oman have escalated tensions in the Middle East and raised the prospect of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States. Washington and its allies in the region have blamed Tehran for the blasts on board the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. The cause of the explosions remains unclear.The blasts, south of the Strait of Hormuz, followed last month's attacks on vessels off the nearby United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) that Washington also blamed on Tehran. Almost a fifth of the world's oil passes through the strait.Tensions have escalated since May 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers that aimed to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Washington has since reimposed stiff economic sanctions. Tehran has repeatedly warned it would block the Strait of Hormuz if it could not sell its oil because of U.S. sanctions.The background in terms of quasi-military operations would be the attacks on the four ships, including the two Saudi tankers, in the U.A.E. port on May 12. It would include the drone attacks on Saudi pumping stations by Huthi rebels recently. Politically, the context for this would be a much tougher line this week from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who not only rejected mediation by Germany and Japan but did so in very strong terms...............


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