U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton has said that Iran was “almost certainly” behind attacks on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) earlier this month.

Bolton, speaking to reporters on May 29 in Abu Dhabi, the capital of U.A.E., said the vessels were attacked by “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.”

Washington, a close ally of Iran’s regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., blamed Tehran for an attack on oil tankers in the Gulf earlier this month.

A five-nation team of experts that has American members is investigating the May 12 attacks, which damaged four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, in the Sea of Oman off the U.A.E. emirate of Fujairah.

Bolton also said there was a failed attack recently on the Saudi oil-port city of Yanbu, the terminus point of Saudi Arabia’s east-west pipeline, adding that he suspected Iran was behind the failed attack, but did not elaborate.

Saudi Arabia has accused Tehran of ordering drone strikes on the east-west pipeline and other oil installations in the kingdom that were claimed by Yemen’s Iran-backed Shi’ite Huthi rebels.

Iranian officials have denied the accusations.

Bolton also said that Washington was trying to be prudent in responding to the activities of Iran and its proxies in the region.

Bolton arrived in the U.A.E. on May 28 for talks on “regional security matters.” His visit comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf.

Regional summits are planned on May 30 and May 31 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as Riyadh attempts to further isolate Tehran.

Earlier on May 28, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Tehran was ready to engage in dialogue with Gulf Arab countries in order to address regional tensions.

Araqchi was speaking during a visit to the Qatari capital, Doha, the final stop in a tour that included Kuwait and Oman.

Relations between Tehran and Washington have plummeted since U.S. President Donald Trump a year ago pulled out the United States of a 2015 nuclear accord between world powers and Iran that curbed the country’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.

Since then, Washington has reimposed sanctions, stepped up its rhetoric, and beefed up its military presence in the Middle East, citing “imminent threats” from Iran.

Source » rferl