By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - UN Chief Antonio Guterres urged Friday an independent probe to investigate recent attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
"It is very important to know the truth," Guterres told reporters at the UN's New York headquarters. "Obviously, that can only be done if there is some independent entity that verifies those facts. So, whatever happens in the international community, we will be supportive of any initiative in this regard, provided it is truly independent."
He noted, however, that such an inquiry would need to be approved by the Security Council.
The U.S. has maintained Iran is responsible for the attacks, releasing a video it says shows Iranian forces removing a mine from one of the ships that was attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman.
Both U.S. President Donald Trump and Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have ruled out dialogue to diffuse tensions.
Relations between Washington and Tehran have been at a fever pitch since Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. in May 2018 from an international pact aimed at reining in Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions.
The Trump administration has since gone on to attempt to scuttle the agreement, which all other signatories -- France, Russia, Germany, the UK, China, Iran and the EU -- remain a party to.
The attempts to undermine the deal have included the reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran oil exports that were lifted as part of the agreement, crippling a vital Iranian export.
That decision, in particular, drew strong condemnation from Iran amid a near-ceaseless diplomatic and economic effort the administration terms its "maximum pressure campaign" to bring Iran back to negotiations that would address its nuclear program and other regional activities the U.S. says are destabilizing.
The Strait of Hormuz is a vital waterway with roughly one-third of the world's liquefied natural gas and a fifth of its oil consumption transiting through it each day.