“Iran did do it,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends” hours after the US military released grainy footage it said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an “unexploded limpet mine” from one of the ships.
“You know they did it because you saw the boat,” the president said in the live, wide-ranging interview.
“I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” he added. “You saw the boat at night, successfully trying to take the mine off — and that was exposed.”
The president insisted that the Strait of Hormuz, a key commercial shipping route, would not be closed in the wake of the attacks on the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
“It’s not going to be closed for long and they know it. They’ve been told in very strong terms,” he said.
“They’re a nation of terror, and they’ve changed a lot since I’ve been president. They’re in deep, deep trouble,” Trump said.
Asked how to he planned to address Tehran and stop any further similar incidents, Trump said: “We’re going to see.”
He also said the US, which has been “very tough on sanctions,” wants to get Iran back to the negotiating table.
“They’ve been told in very strong terms … we want to get them back to the table if they want to get back. I’m in no rush,” Trump said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Washington had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence.”
He accused the US of seeking to “sabotage diplomacy” as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iran.
One of the targeted ships is owned by a Japanese company while the other was Norwegian-operated.
The dark video released by the US Central Command, along with a corresponding timeline, suggested that US forces in the region observed the Iranian vessels approaching the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and removing the device.
The unexploded weapon was likely applied manually from an Iranian fast boat, one US official said, according to the Washington Post.
It is thought to be the same kind of device used to blast a hole elsewhere in the same ship and to do more severe damage to the other targeted ship, the Front Altair, two officials told the newspaper.