(Persia Digest) - President Donald Trump threatened Iran with a "bad problem" Monday following news that Saudi Arabian oil tankers were sabotaged near the Persian Gulf.
“It's going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens, I can tell you that," the president told reporters in the Oval Office. "They're not going to be happy."
Asked to clarify what he meant by a "bad problem," Trump responded: “You can figure it out yourself. They know what I mean by it.”
USA TODAY writes that Trump's remarks come amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Trump administration has warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. And the Pentagon is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.
Saudi Arabia said Monday two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in attacks that caused "significant damage" to the vessels, one of them as it was en route to pick up Saudi oil to take to the United States.
Trump administration officials have not said whether they think Iran is behind the sabotage. But the United Arab Emirates has asked the U.S. to help with an investigation of the incident.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the developments with European allies in Brussels on Monday.
"We did discuss the reported attacks on the two Saudi tankers," Brian Hook, the State Department's special envoy on Iran, told reporters in Brussels where he was traveling with Pompeo. Hook said Pompeo also discussed a similar attack on a Norwegian tanker and an Emirati ship.
Pompeo made the surprise stop in Brussels specifically to talk to European allies about the new threats posed by Iran, Hook said. The secretary of state had been scheduled to be in Moscow on Monday but diverted to visit with EU officials instead.
"The secretary shared information and intelligence with allies and discussed the the multiple plot vectors emerging from Iran," Hook said. "We know that Europe shares our concerns about stability in the [Persian] Gulf and the Middle East."
The Trump administration has made isolating Iran a centerpiece of its foreign policy, withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement and imposing a series of crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Critics fear that hawks inside the Trump administration, including Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, are pushing the U.S. toward a military conflict with Iran.
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