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US again blames Iran for tanker attacks, but insists it 'doesn't want war'

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States is not seeking war with Iran but will continue to act to keep shipping lanes in the Middle East open.

The US does not want to go to war with Iran but will take every action necessary, including diplomacy, to guarantee safe navigation through vital shipping lanes in the Middle East, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.

US-Iran tensions are high following accusations by President Donald Trump's administration that Tehran carried out attacks last Thursday on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a vital oil shipping route. Iran has denied having any role.

"We don't want war. We've done what we can to deter this," Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News Sunday.

"The Iranians should understand very clearly that we will continue to take actions that deter Iran from engaging in this kind of behaviour."

Mike Pompeo
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says more evidence exists to prove Iran attacked two oil tankers.
AAP

Pompeo, a former CIA director, also defended the administration's conclusion that Iran was behind the attack, saying there was other evidence beyond video footage released last week.

"The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence. The world will come to see much of it."

Saudi Arabia on Saturday joined the US in blaming Iran for the attacks and called for the international community to take swift action to secure Gulf energy supplies.

The Strait of Hormuz is a major transit route for oil from Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter, and other Gulf producers.

Pompeo said the US would take "all actions necessary, diplomatic and otherwise" to guarantee safe passage through vital shipping lanes, without providing further details.

The secretary of state said the US was discussing a possible international response, saying he had made a number of calls to foreign officials on Saturday regarding the attacks.

Pompeo cited China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia as countries that rely heavily on freedom of navigation through the straits.

"I'm confident that when they see the risk, the risk of their own economies and their own people and outrageous behaviour of the Islamic Republic of Iran, they will join us in this," he said.

The US is already embroiled in a stand-off with Iran over its nuclear program, and has blamed the Middle Eastern country and its surrogates for other acts of aggression in recent months.

They include previous attacks on oil tankers in May and the targeting of US drones in Yemen.

In a separate television interview with broadcaster CBS, Pompeo left open the possibility of US military action in the region but declined to discuss what form that might take.

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