US believes Iran proxies may be behind tanker attacks

WTI and Brent Crude Oil

On Tuesday, Spain temporarily pulled one of its frigates that was part of a USA -led combat fleet from near the Persian Gulf because of the mounting tensions.

Iran's economy has faced a squeeze and the population has faced severe shortages of essential items since the US imposed sanctions on export of Iranian oil. Washington did not publicly provide any evidence to back up claims of an increased threat from Tehran.

The U.S. supports Saudi Arabia and its allies in the war against the Houthis, despite criticism that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes have killed civilians.

Pakistan condemned the drone attacks on oil pumping stations in eastern province of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, ARY News reported on Wednesday.

Brent crude futures rose mid-morning Wednesday by 18 cents to $71.42 USA a barrel.

Tensions have risen in the oil-rich region in recent weeks after Washington deployed an aircraft carrier battle group to the area in anticipation of an Iranian military response to economic sanctions. He said he would "absolutely" be willing to send troops but had not planned for that, and if he was going to "we'd send a hell of a lot more".

What do we know about the "sabotage"?

"They know that it is not to their benefit". Iran has since said it would begin enriching uranium at higher levels by July 7 if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the deal.

The crew of the USS Vincennes said they mistook the Airbus for an Iranian fighter.

State-owned IRAN daily quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as telling a group of officials during a meeting on Tuesday night that "achieving 20 percent enrichment is the most hard part".

It was a telling remark from the supreme leader - Iran is not known to have enriched beyond 20% previously and it's unclear how far Tehran is willing to go in this process.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen said earlier on Tuesday that they had targeted key Saudi installations using seven drones, according to the rebel-controlled Saba news agency.

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The two oil pumping stations targeted in Saudi Arabia are over 800 kilometers (500 miles) from Yemen's northern border with the kingdom. Saudi Aramco's oil and gas supplies have not been impacted as a result of this incident.

The attacks took place against a backdrop of U.S. The website TankerTrackers.com, whose analysts monitor oil sales on the seas, first reported about the black marks.

The ships - including two Saudi oil tankers, an Emirati ship and the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory - were docked in the sea off the coast of Fujairah, the official added.

In the letter, Saudi Arabia held Iran and the Houthis "totally responsible" for Tuesday's attack, according to Al-Arabiya.

Thome Ship Management, a Norwegian firm which manages the ship, said in a statement it had been "struck by an unknown object on the waterline".

In a tweet, the rebel-owned television station, Al Masirah, quoted a Houthi official describing Tuesday's drone assault as: "This large military operation is in response to the continued aggression and blockade of our people and we are prepared to carry out more unique and harsh strikes".

The US yesterday ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Arbil.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said there would not be war with the U.S., despite mounting tensions over Iranian nuclear capabilities, its missile program and its support for proxies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

That contradicts what British Maj.

Figures from industry group the American Petroleum Institute suggested USA inventories increased by 8.6 million barrels on Tuesday.

The British officer's comments "run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from United States and allies regarding Iranian backed forces in the region", said Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman at the U.S. military's Central Command.

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