US National Security Advisor John Bolton said Wednesday Iran was “almost certainly” behind attacks on ships off the United Arab Emirates earlier this month. The four ships, including two Saudi tankers, were attacked by “naval mines almost certainly from Iran”, Bolton told a press conference in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
US experts are part of a five-nation team that is investigating the May 12 attacks that damaged the four vessels in the Sea of Oman off the UAE emirate of Fujairah.
Iran Used “Navel Mines” to Attack
“There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who’s responsible for this,” he said. “Who else would you think is doing it? Someone from Nepal?” Bolton said he would meet Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan as well as his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, to discuss relations and regional tensions.
Bolton rubbished the idea that his stance on the crisis with Iran disagreed with that of US President Donald Trump, who has firmly stated that the US does not seek a regime change in Iran.
Addressing a conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, Bolton stated that the attacks on the Saudi tankers were associated with the strike on the oil pumping stations in KSA’s East-West pipeline, alongside a rocket attack fired on the Green Zone in Baghdad.
“We remain concerned and as watchful as we can,” he said. “We are responding and consulting more closely with our allies in the region to discuss what to do next.” Washington has reimposed tough sanctions against Tehran and ordered the deployment of 1,500 more troops to the Middle East.
Bolton Responsible for Brewing Tensions?
While addressing the news conference, Al Jazeera reported that Bolton maintained that Washington is “trying to be prudent and responsible” in its response to the alleged attacks undertaken by Iran and its proxies across the region by focusing on gathering evidence and boosting defensive protection.
Bolton rubbished the idea that his stance on the crisis with Iran disagreed with that of US President Donald Trump, who has firmly stated that the US does not seek a regime change in Iran. Bolton said, “I am the national security adviser, not the national security decider.”
Bolton added that Iran has “no reason” to breach the terms set in the 2015 nuclear deal aside from the acquisition of atomic weapons. He said, “There’s no reason for them to do it unless it is to reduce the breakout time to nuclear weapons.”
Analysts argue that Bolton’s hardline antagonism towards Iran is not sudden, but in fact, for several years, John Bolton has been a strong advocate for ushering a regime change in Iran. Experts believe that the recent surge of tensions are Bolton’s doing.
The east-west pipeline, which has the capacity to carry some five million barrels per day from the oilfields of the kingdom’s Gulf coast to the Red Sea, was shut for two days as a result of the attack.
Peter Bergen, director of the national security studies programme at the New American Foundation, told the Middle East Eye, “He’s (John Bolton) been an advocate of regime change in Iran for decades, and that’s one of his main goals.”
Bolton’s vision of ushering in a regime change and meddling in Tehran’s affairs are reflected through his write-ups and columns. In a column written for the New York Times in 2015, Bolton stated that the “the inconvenient truth is that only military action … can accomplish what is required”. He continued, “Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”
Tehran Denies Allegations
Tehran called the attacks on the ships “alarming and regrettable”, and warned of “adventurism” by foreign players to disrupt maritime security. Fujairah, where the attacks took place, is a key oil export terminal on the Sea of Oman that spares tankers the need to enter the Gulf through the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has repeatedly threatened to close. Almost a third of the world’s oil supplies pass through the narrow strait between Iran and Oman which is the sole shipping lane into and out of the Gulf.
Two days after the attacks on the ships, Yemen’s Huthi rebels accused by Abu Dhabi and Riyadh of being proxies of Tehran hit a strategic diversionary pipeline in Saudi Arabia with two drones. The east-west pipeline, which has the capacity to carry some five million barrels per day from the oilfields of the kingdom’s Gulf coast to the Red Sea, was shut for two days as a result of the attack.
AFP with additional input by GVS news desk.