Gulf on Edge as Conflicting Accounts of Tanker Attacks Swirl

The U.S. political and military standoff with Iran hardened as conflicting narratives about a pair of attacks on tankers near the Persian Gulf stoked regional tensions and President Donald Trump vowed that Tehran will not be allowed to close a key oil shipping lane.

With U.S.-Iranian relations already at a low point, American officials released images they said showed that Iran was involved in a mine blast that forced the evacuation of a tanker near the entrance to the Gulf on Thursday. Tehran denied involvement, and the owner of the ship refuted the U.S. assertion that the blast came from a mine, adding to the confusion over what happened and who was responsible.

“Iran did do it and you know they did it,” Trump said Friday during a phone interview with Fox News. “You saw the boat at night.” 

While both sides have said they’re not looking for war, events have taken on a momentum of their own with U.S. and Iranian forces bolstering their military presence, raising the threat of a miscalculation. Even so, investors took the risk in their stride. Brent oil futures in London traded slightly lower on Friday at $61.15 a barrel, set for a weekly decline as concern about faltering demand outweighed those of Middle East tensions.

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