US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that attacks on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates this month were the work of “naval mines almost certainly from Iran”, without offering evidence.
The comments by Bolton on Wednesday came during a briefing to journalists in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi.
Bolton also said there was a failed attack recently on the Saudi oil-port city of Yanbu.
The city is the final point of Saudi Arabia’s east-west pipeline, which was recently targeted by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in a coordinated drone attack.
Bolton said he suspected Iran was behind the failed attack, but did not elaborate or give evidence for the claim.
Officials in Saudi Arabia could not be immediately reached for comment.
Bolton also told reporters in Abu Dhabi that the US is trying to be prudent in responding to alleged activities of Iran and its proxies in the region and dismissed the idea there was any difference between his positions and that of US President Donald Trump.
“I am the national security adviser, not the national security decider,” he said.
Bolton said that there’s “no reason” for Iran to breach the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers other than to seek atomic weapons.
Speaking to journalists ahead of meetings he planned with top Emirati officials, Bolton said: “There’s no reason for them to do it unless it is to reduce the breakout time to nuclear weapons.”
Trump’s national security adviser, a longtime hawk on Iran, is visiting the UAE amid heightened tensions across the Gulf.
Bolton tweeted he had arrived in the Emirates for meetings on Wednesday “to discuss important and timely regional security matters”.
The US recently deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran. The US also pulled nonessential diplomats out of Iraq and sent hundreds more troops to the region.
The US unilaterally pulled out of a nuclear deal with Iran and world powers a year ago.
Iran now says it too will begin backing away from the accord.
Al Jazeera and news agencies