President Donald Trump suggested Monday that the American military may step back from securing the Strait of Hormuz for oil shipments and other international commerce, as the economically critical waterway has become the site of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
“China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight, Japan 62%, & many other countries likewise. So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
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“All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been … a dangerous journey,” Trump continued. “We don’t even need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy anywhere in the world!”
The president added: “The U.S. request for Iran is very simple – No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!”
Trump’s tweets follow several weeks of escalating brinkmanship between Washington and Tehran, with recent Iranian acts of aggression focused near the narrow sea passage connecting the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
The Trump administration has accused Iran of perpetrating attacks earlier this month on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and a U.S. Navy official said last Wednesday that a limpet mine used to partly destroy one of the vessels, the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, bore a striking resemblance to Iranian explosive devices, according to the Associated Press.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility last Thursday for shooting down an American surveillance drone because Tehran alleged it violated Iranian airspace, but the U.S. military asserted that the aircraft was taken down in “an unprovoked attack” over international airspace above the Strait of Hormuz.
Trump confirmed last Friday that he called off a retaliatory strike on Iran, tweeting that the planned military response and potential casualties were “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to undercut the president’s message Monday morning, writing on Twitter a half hour after Trump’s posts about his conversation with Saudi Arabia’s leader in the port city of Jeddah.
“Productive meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud today to discuss heightened tensions in the region and the need to promote maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz,” Pompeo tweeted. “Freedom of navigation is paramount.”