Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that there are "no indications" that Iran is willing to change its "malign behavior" as the Iranian regime continues to act aggressively on the world stage. "In the end, the Iranians, the regime, has to make a decision that it wants to behave like a normal nation," Pompeo told reporters during a press conference with Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno. "And if they do that, we're prepared to negotiate across a broad spectrum of issues with no preconditions and I hope that they will do that," Pompeo added that the U.S. has tried to de-escalate the situation and create the space for negotiations, but added that "we have seen no indications that the Iranians are prepared to fundamentally change the direction of their nation, to do the things we've asked them to do with their nuclear program, their missile program, their malign behavior around the world." The secretary of state's remarks came one day after Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Senior Iranian officials said that the seizure of the Stena Impero as well as the brief detainment of a second UK-flagged vessel were a "reciprocal" measure for the July 4 seizure of an Iranian tanker by British Royal Marines off the island of Gibraltar.
"The country's proud defense capabilities are a result of the pressures and cutting ties with foreigners" during the era of Iran's long war with Iraq in the 1980s, the ayatollah said in a post on social media. He also appeared to encourage Iranians to persevere through the crippling economic sanctions that were imposed by the United States in May and set off the current escalation. "The movement now to rely on only ourselves will yield important results including economically," the ayatollah said. Tensions between Britain and Iran spiked earlier this month when the British military impounded an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar on suspicion of having violated a European Union embargo on the sale of oil to Syria. Iran called the seizure "piracy," accused Britain of acting on a pretext at the behest of Washington and threatened to capture a British ship in retaliation.
WASHINGTON/LONDON/DUBAI - U.S. President Donald Trump warned Tehran on Wednesday that sanctions would soon be "increased substantially," as armed Iranian boats reportedly attempted to block a British oil tanker in Persian Gulf waters. The British government said its navy intervened to stop Iran from preventing a commercial oil tanker from leaving the Gulf, heightening friction just as European nations scramble to salvage a landmark nuclear accord. The BP PLC-operated British Heritage, which can carry as much as 1 million barrels of oil, was attempting to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, a shipping chokepoint at the mouth of the world's largest oil-producing region, when three Iranian vessels tried to block it, according to a U.K. government statement. The incident comes after U.K. forces seized a tanker off Gibraltar earlier this month that was suspected of carrying Iranian oil to Syria. Iran denied the vessel was heading to Syria and vowed to retaliate, but the seizure opened up a wrangle that could drag on for months and complicate efforts to contain a brewing crisis over Iran's compliance with a 2015 deal meant to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon.
Tehran claims Iraqi tanker was smuggling fuel; Lucas Tomlinson reports from the Pentagon. Iran seized a tugboat and detained its 12 Filipino crew members on suspicion of smuggling diesel fuel in the Persian Gulf, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported Saturday. The U.S. Navy 5th Fleet was aware of the report but declined further comment, Cmdr. Joshua Frey, a spokesman, said. In Manila, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs said it was checking out the report.