Pompeo Says ‘U.K.’s Responsibility to Take Care of Their Ships’ After Tanker Seized

U.S. Secretary of State also dismisses in Fox interview Iran's claims that is has captured 17 spies working for the CIA

Mike Pompeo during a news conference in El Salvador, July 21, 2019.
Jose Cabezas/Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said the responsibility of the captured British tanker "falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships."

In an interview with Fox News Channel, Pompeo was asked about any possible U.S. role in the tensions between Iran and the U.K. after Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. 

Tehran had previously warned it would retaliate after the Britain captured an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar.

>> Read more: U.S.-Iran escalation on verge of turning into real slugfest | Analysis ■ Strait of Hormuz: What happens if the world's key oil artery gets blocked?

In recent weeks, the United States has blamed Iran for a string of incidents in the Strait of Hormuz, an important shipping alley in the oil trade bordering one coast of Iran. Iran has denied the accusations.

Pompeo further dismissed Iran's announcement it had captured 17 spies working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and sentenced some to death.

Iran made the announcement in state media, saying the alleged spies had been arrested in the 12 months to March 2019. Such announcements are not unusual in Iran, but the timing has raised concerns that Tehran is hardening its position in its standoff with Western powers.

"The Iranian regime has a long history of lying ... I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they've taken," Pompeo said in an interview 

Pompeo declined to comment about any specific cases, but added: "There's a long list of Americans that we are working to get home from the Islamic Republic of Iran."