As U.S. allies pressed the Trump administration for more concrete evidence linking Iran to attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that additional proof will be forthcoming.
Japan and Germany have requested stronger evidence than the grainy video released by the Pentagon appearing to show an Iranian patrol boat removing from one of the ships an item said to be an unexploded mine.
Pompeo bristled at the suggestion that the U.S. conclusion was under question, including German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s request for more information because the video was “not enough.”
“The German foreign minister has seen a great deal more than just that video,” Pompeo said on CBS. “He will continue to see more.”
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.
“We have confidence that Iran instigated this attack,” he said Sunday when asked about the discrepancy, adding, “I wouldn’t have said it if the intelligence community hadn’t become convinced that this was the case.”
Tensions between the United States and Iran have been deteriorating since early May, when the Trump administration stiffened its enforcement of oil sanctions in an attempt to drive Iran’s oil revenue to zero.
“This is an international challenge,” he said. “This is important to the entire globe. The United States is going to make sure that we take all actions necessary, diplomatic and otherwise, to achieve that outcome.”
Questions about the U.S. account of what happened to the two oil tankers have swirled since Japanese shipping heads said the Kokuka Courageous was hit by a “flying object,” not a mine, as the U.S. video suggested.
The Saudi and British governments 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.
But Germany’s foreign minister said the video was insufficient to make a final assessment of blame.
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.
Taken together, the remarks represent an extraordinary display of refusal to take the administration’s assertions at face value.
Several lawmakers have said the White House should not go to war without seeking authorization from Congress.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on “Face the Nation” that “unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike” against Iran.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who heads the House Intelligence Committee, called the evidence “very strong and compelling.”