- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2019

Pentagon officials are drafting a slew of “contingency plans” for the U.S. and its Middle East allies, should growing tensions between Washington and Iran escalate in the region, says acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

U.S. national security officials are also reaching out to American allies, in a effort to gin up “an international consensus” to increase pressure on Tehran, in the wake of a pair of attacks on commercial oil vessels in the Gulf of Oman, Mr. Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday.

“When you look at the situation … 15 percent of the world’s oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz,” he said ahead of a meeting with Portuguese Defense Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho. “So we obviously need to make contingency plans should the situation deteriorate. We also need to broaden our support for this international situation.”

Mr. Shanahan declined to comment on any details regarding the contingency options being eyed by the Defense Department or the White House.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington had irrefutable evidence of Iranian involvement in the attacks on the Norwegian-owned M/T Altair and Japanese-owned M/T Kokuka Courageous oil tankers in the Middle East.

Officials from U.S. Central Command released video late Thursday of a Gashti-class Iranian patrol boat with members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) removing an unexploded limpet sea mine from the hull of the Kokuka Courageous.

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Mr. Shanahan said on Friday that the Pentagon is still in the midst of determining the origin of the sea mine videotaped being taken off the Japanese tanker and releasing that information to the public.

“The more information that we can declassify, the more information we can share, we will. And that’s our intent,” the acting defense chief added.

• Carlo Muñoz can be reached at cmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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