WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is focused on building international consensus following attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East that the United States has blamed here on Iran, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Friday.
Shanahan told Pentagon reporters that he, White House national security adviser John Bolton and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared that goal.
Iran has rejected U.S. accusations that it was responsible for Thursday’s explosions on a Japanese tanker and a Norwegian tanker at the entrance to the Gulf.
Shanahan, asked later whether he was considering sending more troops or military capabilities to the Middle East, Shanahan said: “As you know we’re always planning various contingencies.”
But he then returned to the issue of building consensus.
“When you look at the situation, a Norwegian ship, a Japanese ship, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, 15 percent of the world’s oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz,” he said.
“So we obviously need to make contingency plans should the situation deteriorate. We also need to broaden our (international) support for this international situation.”
Shanahan said the Pentagon’s role would include sharing intelligence, as the U.S. military’s Central Command did on Thursday by publicly releasing a video it said showed Iran’s military removing an unexploded here mine from one of the tankers.
Iran said the video proved nothing and that Tehran was being made into a scapegoat.
“The more information that we can declassify, the more information we can share, we will. And that’s our intent,” Shanahan said.
Reporting by Phil Stewart; editing by Grant McCool