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story.lead_photo.caption Mike Pompeo

WASHINGTON -- There's "no doubt" Iran was responsible for attacks Thursday on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday, adding that more proof will be released soon.

"The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence," Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday. "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 over the past 40 days."

Japan and Germany have requested stronger evidence than the grainy video released by the Pentagon. U.S. officials say the video shows an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the ships.

Pompeo, who also spoke Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation, emphasized the U.S. international outreach.

"I made a bunch of phone calls yesterday. I'll make a whole bunch more calls today. The world needs to unite," Pompeo said, though he did not say what action a united world should take.

"We are going to work to build out a set of countries that have deep vested interest in keeping that strait open to help us do that," Pompeo said.

Iran has denied being involved in the attacks and accused America of promoting an "Iranophobic" campaign against it.

Pompeo dismissed a suggestion from Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan that the U.S. conclusion was under question. Brennan countered that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas requested more information because the video was "not enough."

"The German foreign minister has seen a great deal more than just that video," Pompeo replied. "He will continue to see more."

However, the Japanese government is also unconvinced. Japanese media reports that Tokyo has asked Washington for concrete evidence to back its conclusion that Iran is responsible.

"The U.S. explanation has not helped us go beyond speculation," a senior government official told Japan Today.

Pompeo said some countries "just wish this would go away." But he called it a fundamental right of every country to travel through the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz, which he said Iran is attempting to deny.

"I am confident that as we continue to develop the fact pattern, countries around the world will not only accept the basic facts, which I think are indisputable, but will come to understand that this is an important mission for the world," he said.

Pompeo stressed that the U.S. gets relatively little of its energy supplies through the strait, which lies between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says 16 percent of U.S. petroleum imports came from the Persian Gulf countries in 2018.

By contrast, about 80% of oil through the shipping passage supplies energy-hungry countries in Asia, including China, Japan, India and South Korea. Those countries have skin in the game, he said.

"I'm confident that when they see the risk -- the risk of their own economies and their own people and outrageous behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran, they will join us in this," Pompeo said.


For U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, that mission for the world includes an attack on Iran.

"These unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike," Cotton, R-Ark., said on Face the Nation.

Cotton said President Donald Trump has the authorization to defend American interests, saying even critics of the administration would have to support a military strike because "it would be in keeping with what President [Barack] Obama did unwisely in Libya in 2011 in launching a weekslong campaign to overthrow the government there."

"What I'm talking about is not like what we've seen in Iraq for the last 16 years or Afghanistan for the last 18 years," he said. "But retaliatory military strikes against Iran that make it clear we will not tolerate any kind of attacks on commercial shipping on the open seas."

Cotton said the difference between the run-up to war in Iraq and the current tensions with Iran were in the difficulty of assessing Iraq's program of weapons of mass destruction.

"There's really not much to assess right here," he said. "Everybody can see with their own two eyes, those Iranian sailors going up to a ship and taking a mine off of it. ... They tried to shoot down one of our surveillance aircrafts over the Persian Gulf as we were simply trying to monitor what had happened there."

The Republican from Dardanelle said that because Iran is struggling under U.S. sanctions, the country is hoping that attacks on oil tankers will drive up the price of the oil it sells, as well as compel other countries to push for easing of sanctions.

"That's not going to happen," he said. "If anything, we need to increase that pressure, and I think this unprovoked attack on commercial shipping warrants retaliatory military strikes."

Trump last year withdrew the U.S. from an international agreement, signed by Obama in 2015, to limit Iran's nuclear program. Trump has reinstated economic sanctions and recently ended waivers that allowed some countries to continue buying Iranian oil. That has deprived Iran of oil income and has coincided with what U.S. officials said was a surge in intelligence pointing to Iranian preparations for attacks against U.S. forces and interests in the Gulf region.

The U.S. has accelerated the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier battle group to the region, sent four nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Qatar and bolstered its defenses in the region by deploying more Patriot air defense systems.


Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who heads the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS that the U.S. is struggling to persuade its allies to join in a response against Iran, and "it shows just how isolated the United States has become."

Some European allies have called for a careful investigation of responsibility, worried that Trump is escalating tensions with a country he has long called a top U.S. enemy.

Similar demands for "credible" proof have been made by a senior European Union foreign policy adviser and by Jeremy Corbyn, who is a leading member of Britain's Parliament in the opposition Labor Party.

The video cited by Pompeo backs the U.S. assertion that Iran used limpet mines to target the tankers on Thursday. But the Japanese tanker's crew members appeared to contradict the assertion, as they describe "flying objects" as having targeted the vessel.

Schiff, however, called the evidence against Iran "very strong and compelling," calling it a "class A screw-up" by the Middle East nation.

The Saudi and British governments also agreed that the grainy U.S. video seemed to point to Iran, with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, calling on the international community to take a "decisive stance" against what he called Iranian expansionism.

In his first public comments regarding the attacks, the powerful Saudi prince, who is also defense minister and oversees all major levers of power in the country, said the incident "confirms the importance of our demands of the international community to take a decisive stance" against Iran's behavior.

"The kingdom does not seek war in the region," the prince said, speaking with the Arabic-language newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. "But we will not hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, sovereignty and vital interests."

The prince claimed Iran had planned the attack's timing to undercut the Japanese prime minister's diplomatic efforts in Tehran last week.

Pompeo, later asked on Fox News Sunday about Trump's decision to push ahead with $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia despite congressional opposition, said the sale "made enormous sense."

Elsewhere, Schiff expressed concern about the influence of Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, both longtime hawks on Iran.

Schiff argued that Trump wants to avoid war in the Middle East but said "his people, and I don't know whether [that] is Pompeo or Bolton or both, seem to be taking actions to undercut that ambition to stay out of war."

Information for this article was contributed by Carol Morello, Kareem Fahim, Simon Denyer, Elise Viebeck and Felicia Sonmez of The Washington Post; by Aya Batrawy and Ellen Knickmeyer of The Associated Press; and by Mark Niquette, Shawn Donnan and Kevin Varley of Bloomberg News.

Photo by NYTNS
Tom Cotton

A Section on 06/17/2019

Print Headline: Pompeo vows more proof Iran hit tankers; strike back now, Arkansas’ Cotton urges


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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    June 17, 2019 at 6:22 a.m.

    Where have we seen this kind of language before? "The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence," Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday. "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 over the past 40 days."
    Moreover, our own "do nothing, but talk about his grave duty" senator believes we should put American lives at stake over this. His rambling statements are about as reckless as they come. For one, he uses the "Obama did it, so we should too" argument which is completely irrational. If that's your guidepost for military action, you REALLY don't need to be on the Armed Services or Intelligence committees.
    I hope Pompeo can come up with better evidence than he's provided so far. The funny part is that he seems to be the one hawking this, not Acting Secretary Shanahan. It makes me wonder if this is more an agenda play than a real threat. It's no wonder other countries want more proof as their trust in the US is pretty low thanks to Trump. This is what happens when you get someone like Trump in the WH. You have to struggle to gain international confidence in your positions.

  • mozarky2
    June 17, 2019 at 6:30 a.m.

    RBear, I suppose your solution would be to send the Iranians a couple hundred billion dollars...right?
    President Trump is handling this situation a lot more deftly than the Fresh Prince of Bill Ayers would have.

    June 17, 2019 at 7:33 a.m.

    Pompeo! Just another Trump YES MAN.Another of a string of Trumps FAKE CRISIS.I am sure .more PROOF will be found.I feel more of a designed evidence to be brought forth if any NON FAKE evidence can be found.I do not believe any thing be stated from the WH.NO TRUTH,NO TRANSPARENCY.Another one of the many campaign promises not kept.JUST LIES.

  • limb
    June 17, 2019 at 7:34 a.m.

    No thank you. We’re alone in another self created charade.

  • 23cal
    June 17, 2019 at 7:48 a.m.

    Well, first, and simply, military strikes aren't the only possible, and likely not the best, response even if the claims from the war mongers are correct.
    "The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence,"
    Is that the same intelligence community whose data, evidence, and conclusions about Russia interfering in the 2016 election got pooh-poohed and dismissed by this administration? You know, the intelligence community this administration threw under the bus while professing to believe America's adversary Putin? Yeah, this administration has blown its credibility on "the intelligence community".
    "We are going to work to build out a set of countries that have deep vested interest in keeping that strait open to help us do that," Pompeo said. Japan and Germany have already expressed their doubt.
    Sounds like a replay of the unilateral Iraq invasion under Bush. Remember the right wing boycotting French fries because the French saw through the bogus war justification rhetoric?
    Speaking of which......we have seen this same movie under Bush and Cheney. I didn't like that movie, it didn't end well.....or at all, really. I doubt the sequel under Cadet Bone Spurs and Bellicose Bolton will be any better.
    "By contrast, about 80% of oil through the shipping passage supplies energy-hungry countries in Asia, including China, Japan, India and South Korea. Those countries have skin in the game, he said." Then it would make sense that those countries would be the ones beating the war drums the loudest, instead of one desperately seeking excuses for some more insane nation building imperialism.
    Some people never learn.
    I wonder if the "Iranian" ship was a false flag by Kushner and Donnie's BFF Saudi Arabia. You know, the Saudi Arabia with the prince who had a journalist who lived in America murdered and dismembered, the Saudi Arabia buying huge amounts of weapons from us without congressional approval, and the Saudi Arabia whose current intervention in Yemen has reached the level of a "humanitarian disaster" or "humanitarian catastrophe", and some have labelled it as a genocide? Yeah, that Saudi Arabia.
    Anyone who believes without tons of evidence an administration which lies all day every day is a fool. Sadly we will be hearing a great clamor from them today.

  • RBBrittain
    June 17, 2019 at 7:49 a.m.

    If the Senate had ANY sense its ONLY emergency action would be to EXPEL TOM COTTON IMMEDIATELY! What's out there now would justify dropping a bomb on Dardanelle (specifically the warmonger's OWN HOME) more than Iran, even though as a native Arkansan I would NEVER want that. Alas, the Senate is even more enthralled to the Cheeto in Chief than Cotton is.
    And Mozarky, that was Iran's OWN MONEY that Obama RETURNED to them. Cotton's attempts to use that as justification for his Iran policy, together with his ill-advised letter to Iran while Obama was in office (borderline treason by the constitutional definition as it likely aided & abetted a nation Cotton himself saw as the enemy), only FURTHER proves he is a warmonger!

  • 23cal
    June 17, 2019 at 7:53 a.m.

    When he pulls the trigger, don't say, "Gee, I had no idea he would do THAT." That is exactly how he thinks, he just projected it onto Obama because it is exactly what he would do, and what he is obviously trying to do.
    "In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran." D. Trump tweet, 11/29/11
    "Now that Obama's numbers are in a tailspin-watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate." D. Trump tweet, 10/09/12
    "I predict that at some point President Obama will attack Iran in order to save face!" D. Trump tweet, 9/16/13
    "Remember what I previously said--Obama will someday attack Iran to show how tough he is!" D. Trump tweet, 9/25/13
    Well, Trump's numbers are in a tailspin----he just fired his own pollsters. Cadet Bone Spurs who compared trying to avoid sexually transmitted diseases on the dating scene to “my personal Vietnam" always wants to appear tough, wants desperately to get re-elected to stay out of jail, and is always and perennially about thin-skinned saving face. He is like a toddler with toy soldiers: moving them around to create imaginary battlefields like on the border, lining them up in a big parade, and now he wants a big battle for them that he can ooooh and ahhhh over, claiming a great victory for the Great Leader.
    Connect the dots, they overlap, so it should be easy.

  • Illinoisroy
    June 17, 2019 at 7:54 a.m.

    Damaged ships weren't US based nor were any US citizens harmed. Keep out and shut-up. We had significant "evidence" of Iraq backing terrorist group that attacked USA and stockpile of weapons of massive destruction with intent to utilize. However it proved to be a false narrative but we lost sons/daughters and have been stuck in quagmire. Learn from history!

  • BoudinMan
    June 17, 2019 at 8:24 a.m.

    Why is it that every time Tommy Boy opens his mouth our state just seems dumber and dumber?

  • RBear
    June 17, 2019 at 8:27 a.m.

    BTW, guess who benefits from a crisis in the Middle East and cutting off Iran's oil exports? Oh, could it be Saudi Arabia? Who has Trump been extremely buddy-buddy with lately, skirting Congress in approving arms sales and development for? Do you wonder WHY so many people are suspicious of this administration's motives?