Saudi Arabia's crown prince blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and called on the international community to take a "decisive stand" but said in an interview published on Sunday that the kingdom does not want a war in the region.
Attacks on two oil tankers on Thursday, which the United States also blamed on Iran, have raised fears of broader confrontation in the region. Iran has denied any role in the strikes south of the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route and major transit route for oil.
The explosions that damaged the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous occurred while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran trying to help ease rising tensions between the United States and Iran.
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"The Iranian regime did not respect the Japanese prime minister's visit to Tehran and while he was there replied to his efforts by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese," Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was quoted as saying in an interview with the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
"The kingdom does not want a war in the region but it will not hesitate to deal with any threats to its people, its sovereignty, or its vital interests," he said.
Tehran and Washington have both said they have no interest in a war. But this has done little to assuage concerns that the arch foes could stumble into conflict.
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“The problem is in Tehran and not anywhere else,” Prince Mohammed added. “Iran is always the party that’s escalating in the region, carrying out terrorist attacks and criminal attacks either directly or through its militias.”
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of arming Yemeni rebels known as Houthis, who claimed responsibility for a missile strike on a Saudi airport in the city of Abha that the kingdom said wounded 26 passengers last week. The Houthis also carried out a drone strike last month on a key Saudi oil pipeline. Saudi Arabia has been at war against the Houthis in Yemen since early 2015.
“The choice before Iran is clear. Do you want to be a normal state with a constructive role in the international community or do you want to be a rogue state?” the crown prince was quoted as saying.
The Associated Press contributed to this article