- The Trump administration has been dodging inquiries into whether it would support an independent inquiry into the recent oil tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman.
- The UN chief and some EU foreign ministers have called for an independent inquiry.
- The Trump administration has forcefully blamed Iran, which has denied any responsibility.
- The incident occurred amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US, sparking fears of yet another conflict in the Middle East.
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The Trump administration is dodging questions on whether it would support a United Nations-led probe into the oil tanker attacks it’s blamed on Iran.
The State Department did not provide its position on the independent probe after nearly 48 hours of back and forth with INSIDER beginning on Monday.
The White House on Monday referred the issue to the US Mission to the UN, which has not responded to INSIDER’s requests for comment.
The US Mission to the UN lacks a permanent representative at present, though President Donald Trump’s nominee Kelly Craft was set to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday for her confirmation hearing.
There are growing calls for an independent investigation to be launched into the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman amid skepticism over the Trump administration’s claim that Iran is responsible.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been particularly adamant that Iran was behind the attacks, but Tehran has denied any involvement and some in the international community have been reluctant to take the Trump administration’s narrative at face value.
Speaking on the incident with reporters last Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “It’s very important to know the truth and it’s very important that responsibilities are clarified. Obviously that can only be done if there is an independent entity that verifies those facts.”
Guterres said the UN Security Council would need to order such a probe for it to occur.
The UN chief’s call for an independent inquiry has been echoed by European Union (EU) foreign ministers in the days since.
During a meeting between EU foreign ministers on Monday, there was a chorus of support for an independent investigation, The Independent reported.
In an apparent reference to the false pretext that led up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told reporters, “We need a clear UN mandate so that an investigation commission can work. We cannot once more, as in 2002, work with hypotheses that proved to be wrong afterwards. We cannot risk having that again.”
Similarly, Pekka Haavisto, the Finnish foreign minister, said he supports Guterres and called for a “proper investigation” so all of the facts can be laid out before a conclusion is reached.
Meanwhile, German foreign minister Heiko Maas, who has expressed skepticism over the Trump administration’s claims about the tanker attacks, said, “We know the findings of the American and the British intelligence services, which assume that you can be almost certain. We are comparing this with our information. I think you have to proceed very, very carefully on this.”
Back in the US, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, one of the leading contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has also called for an independent probe.
Sanders on Tuesday told MSNBC he does not accept Pompeo’s assertion Iran was responsible for the oil tanker attacks.
“What is absolutely necessary is an objective investigation as to these incidents. The destruction or the bombing or the attacking of oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is not acceptable. We need to investigate it,” Sanders said.
Referencing the Vietnam War and the Iraq War, Sanders went on to say the US cannot afford to get involved in another war “based on lies that came from the White House.”
Following the oil tanker attacks, Iran on Monday announced it will violate the 2015 nuclear deal by the end of the month by ramping up enrichment of low-grade uranium and increasing its uranium stockpile.
Subsequently, the US announced it’s sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East.
Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, and the US has been hammering the Iranians with economic sanctions ever since.
As tensions escalate, the wider world is looking on apprehensively and concerned another war in the Middle East is on the horizon.