Trump says Iran will 'suffer greatly' if U.S. is provoked

The USS Abraham Lincoln in the waters of Western Pacific Ocean in 2004. The ship is now heading to the Middle East

The attacks followed reports of sabotage against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, with tensions rising between the US and Iran.

The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were hit by sabotage near the emirate of Fujairah, one of the world's largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz.

Yemen's Houthi group, which has been at war with the kingdom for over four years, said it had launched drone attacks on Saudi installations, without identifying the targets or time of the attacks.

Asked what Iran should be anxious the USA might do, the president said: "You can figure it out yourself".

The foreign ministry of the United Arab Emirates also condemned the attack as "new proof of the Houthis' hostile and terrorist tendencies". The ministry' spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying there should be more information about the incident.

The US Maritime Administration said in an advisory on Sunday that the incidents off Fujairah, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, have not been confirmed and urged caution when transiting the area. Officials stopped AP journalists from traveling by boat to see the ships.

Tensions have risen in the year since President Donald Trump withdrew the USA from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, restoring U.S. sanctions that have pushed Iran's economy into crisis. He said there will be no negotiations on a new nuclear deal.

The incident comes amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States which has strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged threats from Teheran. Saud Arabia is Iran's regional rival.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom's two tankers suffered "significant damage" but there were no casualties or any oil spill.

Oil prices nevertheless jumped on Tuesday morning after news of the drone attack coming soon after the weekend's oil tanker sabotage. After the United States ended sanctions waivers that had allowed some nations to continue importing Iranian crude, Washington said Riyadh and Abu Dhabi would help compensate for any oil shortage.

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He emphasized the joint responsibility of the worldwide community to protect the safety of maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers, as these incidents pose a danger to energy markets and the global economy.

The Gulf Cooperation Council condemned the tanker sabotage on Monday as a "serious escalation" that could "increase tensions and conflict in the region and jeopardize the interests of their peoples".

Falih denounced the drone attack as "cowardly" and an "act of terrorism". Two other vessels were allegedly also damaged off Fujairah port in UAE waters.

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which oversees the region, did not immediately offer comment. Brent crude futures were at $70.79 a barrel at 1035 GMT, up 56 percents or 0.80%. Saudi shares lost 3.6%. Brent crude, the worldwide standard, gained $1.14 to $71.76 per barrel.

USA national security agencies believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have been behind the attacks. Iranian officials denied responsibility. India, the world's third biggest oil consumer, meets more than 80% of its oil needs through imports.

Trump warned Iran against provocations yesterday.

"In an environment of rising regional tensions, limited Iranian operations against the UAE and Saudi Arabia might be created to dissuade Abu Dhabi and Riyadh and signal that war with Iran will not be limited to Iranian soil", said Alex Vatanka, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.

According to the Times, U.S. officials believe-without citing any evidence-that Iran was involved in reported attacks on UAE and Saudi oil tankers in the Persian Gulf over the weekend.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the Emirati-flagged oil tanker A. Michel off the coast of Fujairah.

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