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Trump Accuses Iran in Explosions That Crippled Oil Tankers

In his interview on Friday, Mr. Trump said he was still open to diplomacy with Iran. “I’m ready when they are,” he said. “Whenever they’re ready it’s okay. I’m in no rush.”

Indeed, the often-bellicose president offered a relatively restrained response to the tanker explosions, avoiding incendiary threats and instead focusing most of his attention on criticizing his predecessor, President Barack Obama, for the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran that Mr. Trump has since pulled out of.

Mr. Trump insisted that Iran is in retreat in the region as a result of American pressure. “They’re a nation of terror,” he said. “They’ve changed a lot since I’ve been president. They were unstoppable and now they’re in deep, deep trouble.”

He added that “they haven’t screamed ‘death to America’ lately” and he asserted that Iran was retrenching from its interventions around the region.“They’re pulling back from everywhere,” he said. “They’re pulling back from Syria. They’re pulling back from Yemen.”

In fact, some Iranian proxy groups in the region have stepped up attacks lately. The Houthi faction in Yemen, which has been supported by Iran, has attacked Saudi oil pipelines and other targets. Just this week, a Houthi missile slammed into the arrival halls of a Saudi airport, injuring 26 people, according to Saudi news reports.

The Houthis reported launching a drone attack on the same airport on Friday but the Saudi military said it intercepted five Houthi drones and the airport was operating normally.

The damage to the two oil tankers on Thursday followed attacks on four tankers near Fujairah in May that Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said were “almost certainly” carried out by Iran.

Doubts about the American version of Thursday’s events were raised by the Japanese operator of one of the damaged tankers, which said that it was attacked by air. “Our crew said that the ship was attacked by a flying object,” said Yutaka Katada, the president of the operator, Kokuka Sangyo.

Source: NYT > World

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