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In Middle East for security talks, John Bolton blames Iran for tanker attacks

By Nicholas Sakelaris
In Middle East for security talks, John Bolton blames Iran for tanker attacks
National security adviser John R. Bolton believes Iran is responsible for recent attacks on oil tankers.  Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

May 29 (UPI) -- In the Middle East on Wednesday to discuss security matters with allies, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton blamed Iran for attacks against oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates this month.

Four tankers were attacked May 13, two of which belonged to Saudi Arabia, which said they'd been sabotaged. On Wednesday, Bolton said Iranian naval mines from Iran were probably responsible, but he did not offer evidence.

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"It is clear these [tanker attacks] were naval mines almost certainly from Iran," Bolton said.

Bolton's remarks came amid rising tensions between Tehran and Washington. He traveled to the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi on Tuesday to prepare for meetings with allies on what Bolton called "important and timely" regional security matters. He was set to meet with UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed on Wednesday.

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The Trump administration this month deployed an aircraft carrier task force and 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East related to the rising tensions.

The White House is "trying to be prudent and responsible" by avoiding a war with Iran, Bolton added.

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"The point is to make it clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kinds of actions risk a very strong response from the United States."

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The Saudi government also blamed Iran for the tanker attacks, as well as armed drone attacks on two Saudi oil stations two days later. U.S. officials have also blamed Iran for a rocket that landed in Iraq's Green Zone.

Tehran has denied the accusations and has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to U.S. sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

President Donald Trump expressed optimism last weekend, saying he believes a "deal" with Iran is coming.

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"We're not looking for regime change. I just want to make that clear. We're looking for no nuclear weapons," Trump said.

Tensions with Iran have increased since the Trump administration ended waivers that allowed some countries to continue buying Iranian crude oil despite U.S. sanctions imposed after the United States left the Iran nuclear deal.

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