NIAC Statement on Latest Persian Gulf Tanker Attacks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 13, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, reports broke that for the second time this month two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz came under attack. U.S. officials were quick to blame Iran, while Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif seemed to deny the attacks and described them as “suspicious.”

In response to the reports that more oil tankers were sabotaged in the Persian Gulf, Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, said:

“With John Bolton seeking to maneuver the U.S. into a war with Iran, the sabotage of more oil tankers underscores the increasingly dangerous situation in the Middle East as the Trump administration pursues its maximum pressure approach toward Iran. The sabotage of oil tankers in May has not yet been attributed to any state. There is a plausible motive to attribute to Iran, but also to other actors in the region and beyond who want to maneuver the U.S. into a war.

The fact that the sabotage occurred amid Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state visit to Iran–where he is believed to have communicated a message from Trump to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei–underscores that the likely motive of the attackers is to prevent any easing of tensions and block off exits ramps to war.

“We may know more about these attacks in the weeks ahead, but we urge all actors – in particular the Trump administration and Iran – to exercise restraint. Trump cannot mitigate the risks of war through pressure, but only by pausing his pressure campaign and by seriously investing in sober negotiations.

“For Congress, these attacks are yet another warning sign that Trump and his team are leaning into a disastrous war in the Middle East. Worse still, Trump officials have made clear they may not even seek Congressional authorization prior to launching a war. The House Armed Services Committee just held a rigorous debate on war powers and Iran in the early morning hours, where Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) underscored his commitment to ruling out an unauthorized war with Iran. That is precisely what is needed. However, the longer Congress waits to act while the situation unravels, the greater the likelihood of catastrophe.”

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